Exports play an important role in a country's economy. The volume of exports has an influence on the level of economic growth and the capacity of employment creation. When exports from a country rise, aggregate demand increases and that results in higher economic growth. This can also positively push related 'service industries'. Increased volume of exports can also result to creating more jobs thus driving economic growth. For instance a higher demand for a particular product can lead to increased production for export; this in turn creates more jobs.
The current account of a country is greatly influenced by the strength of exports. When the export is strong against the import, this can cut down the current account deficit. However, poor export performance of a country can plunge the current account into deficit which is very bad for economic growth.
The Gambia's volume of importation has been hovering around an average of GMD7,628,573,000 between 2005 and 2010 and has since been increasing. In 2005, the volume of imports was GMD 7,422,403,000 which has increased more than two-fold within 10 years at GMD 16, 733, 610, 000.
These volumes are expected to be offset by imports in order to push the economy up. While exports and re-export volumes have also been increasing over the same period, these have never been huge enough to offset the huge volume of imports. Total exports (the sum of export and re-export) in 2005 was GMD7,633,737,000 leaving a negative trade balance of GMD7,211,075,000. In 2015, total exports increased almost three times from 2005 but the country still registered a negative trade balance of GMD12,989,462,000.
The main export products include fish and fish products, cashew nuts, timber and groundnut. Groundnut had been the main export product from The Gambia up to the last fifteen years but the political support for producing and purchasing it from farmers had died. Most of the groundnuts that are being produced now are either bought by businessmen from neighboring Senegal whose exports are made by land and thus making it hard to capture, sold on the local market.