DPS Trade clarifies
The Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade has stated that not all agricultural products from The Gambia are denied entry into the People’s Republic of China.
According to Abdoulie Jammeh, The Gambia and China have enjoyed excellent bilateral relationship since the restoration of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
He explained that the Chinese government has extended its preferential trade regime to The Gambia as part of its flexibility in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). He further explained that it is a mechanism that allows countries to be in a position to give preferential treatment to less developed economies like The Gambia.
He said the preferential treatment allows one to waive the duty that is paid for a particular export product bound for China from a country graced in Beijing’s preferential regime.
The Gambia government official said The Gambia is not the only country benefiting from this advantage, as China has also extended it to other countries such as Senegal.
“Extending the preferential regime is one thing if you are exporting under that regime. If the items are food products, you need to get approval from the Chinese authorities before you export directly to China,” he added.
DPS Jammeh also disclosed that The Gambia government requested export into China for various products such as groundnut, fish, cashew, and sesame.
“We have included all products that we thought have a potential for exportation to China.
Being the competent authority to ascertain the quality of the food products or food-related products for export or import, the Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSQA) prepared the list with different stakeholders,” he disclosed further.
China did not accept all the products The Gambia deemed potentially fit for export
Further dilating on the issue, DPS Jammeh said the Chinese government believed that the list forwarded by The Gambia was long, and some products encroached on items China would let in from other countries around the world.
According to him, the Gambia government finally had no option but to prioritise the products to be exported to China, and this was done in 2018 with the priority products being ticked as groundnuts, fish, cashew, and sesame.
Abdoulie Jammeh said the Chinese approved export for sesame and fish in 2020 and related products. But Beijing is yet to open up for groundnuts and Cashew from The Gambia.
“Our request for groundnut is yet to be approved. We have submitted the information the Chinese requested. They sent supplementary questions. The Ministry of Trade worked with the Food Safety and Quality Authority to prepare a response we submitted to the Chinese government in November last year. We are waiting to get a response from China,” he again explained.
The Gambian official said Senegal had got the preferential approval to export groundnut directly to China. This means traders exporting groundnuts from Senegal to China do not pay the duty, unlike traders attempting to ship from The Gambia without the Chinese approval.
The DPS conceded that the status quo is not to the advantage of Gambian exporters. He opined that groundnuts from other countries such as Senegal will be more competitive and cheaper for traders not paying duty.
“If you want to export from The Gambia, you will not get that opportunity. It is not like the Chinese have refused the Gambian groundnut and cashew. You have to follow due process,” he stressed.
DPS Jammeh added that the government of Gambia continues to engage the Chinese Embassy in The Gambia to remedy the situation.