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The Gambia Economy
 
 
 

General

The Gambia has a liberal, market-based economy characterised by traditional subsistence agriculture, a historic reliance on ground nuts (peanuts) for export earnings, a re-export trade built up around its ocean port, low import duties, minimal administrative procedures, a fluctuating exchange rate with no exchange controls, and a significant tourism industry. The World Bank pegs Gambia's GDP for 2009 at $733 million.

The Gambia has no important mineral or other natural resources and has a limited agricultural base. Agriculture accounts for roughly 30% of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 70% of the labour force. Within agriculture, peanut production accounts for 6.9% of GDP, other crops 8.3%, livestock 5.3%, fishing 1.8%, and forestry 0.5%. Industry accounts for approximately 8% of GDP and services approximately 58%. The limited amount of manufacturing is primarily agricultural-based (e.g. peanut processing, bakeries, a brewery, and a tannery). Other manufacturing activities include soap, soft drinks and clothing.

Previously, the UK and other EU countries constituted The Gambia's major domestic export markets. However, in recent years Senegal, the United States, and Japan have become significant trade partners of The Gambia. In Africa, Senegal represented the biggest trade partner of the Gambia in 2007, which is a defining contrast to previous years that saw Guinea-Bissau and Ghana as equally important trade partners. Globally, Denmark, the US and China have become important source countries for Gambian imports. The UK, Germany, Côte d'Ivoire and the Netherlands also provide a fair share of Gambian imports. The Gambia's trade deficit for 2007 was $331 million.

As of May 2009, there were twelve commercial banks in The Gambia, including one Islamic bank. The oldest of these, Standard Chartered Bank dates its presence back to the entry in 1894 of what shortly thereafter became Bank of British West Africa. In 2005, the Swiss-based banking group, International Commercial Bank established a subsidiary and has now four branches in the country. In 2007, Nigeria's Access Bank established a subsidiary that now has four branches in the country, in addition to its head office; the bank has pledged to open four more. In May 2009, the Lebanese Canadian Bank opened a subsidiary called Prime Bank (Gambia).

Overview

Economy - overview :
The Gambia has sparse natural resource deposits and a limited agricultural base, and relies in part on remittances from workers overseas and tourist receipts. About three-quarters of the population depends on the agricultural sector for its livelihood. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and hides. The Gambia's natural beauty and proximity to Europe has made it one of the larger markets for tourism in West Africa, boosted by government and private sector investments in eco-tourism and upscale facilities. In the past few years, The Gambia's re-export trade – traditionally a major segment of economic activity – has declined, but its banking sector has grown rapidly. Unemployment and underemployment rates remain high; economic progress depends on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid, on responsible government economic management, and on continued technical assistance from multilateral and bilateral donors. The quality of fiscal management, however, is weak. The government has promised to raise civil service wages over the next two years and the deficit is projected to worsen.

GDP (purchasing power parity) :
$3.406 billion (2010 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate) :
$1.04 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate :
5% (2010 est.)


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