High-level government officials, private sector representatives and development partners participated in the presentation of UNCTAD's Investment Policy Review (IPR) of the Gambia in Banjul on 11 April 2017.
The report, prepared at the Government's request, presents action-oriented recommendations to improve the Gambia's legal framework for investment, as well as its approach to promoting foreign investment in the country.
While recognizing that the environment in the Gambia is generally open to investment, the report highlights that the country's potential remains largely untapped. Improving the environment, the report says, requires clearer provisions and more effective implementation for the laws governing business in the country, and strengthened capacities for government institutions, especially for the task of putting in place a prioritized and focused investment promotion strategy.
“The IPR is timely and the new Government requires visibility to attract new investments,” said Naffie Barry, Permanent Secretary of the Gambia's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment, adding that the ministry is determined to implement the IPR's recommendations to address the supply-side constraints that hinder economic activity in the country.
During the presentation, Chantal Dupasquier, Chief of UNCTAD's Investment Policy Review Section, emphasized the role that foreign direct investment (FDI) can play in helping the Gambia achieve its development objectives if appropriate policies are put in place to foster a vibrant private sector.
“Clarity, stability and predictability are key words for investors”, Ms. Dupasquier said.
Other policy challenges include further streamlining the process to formally register a business, reforming tax laws, improving access to land, and addressing constraints that impede trade. The report also discusses issues related to the labour market, competition policy and law, and access to justice -- critical areas where reforms could improve the business environment.
UNCTAD´s Investment Policy Reviews provide an objective evaluation of a country´s legal, regulatory and institutional framework for attracting increased foreign direct investment, as well as recommendation how to maximize the benefits from it.
To date, UNCTAD has completed over 45 IPRs in developing countries and countries whose economies are in transition. It has supported many of them in their reform processes with technical assistance activities.