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Uganda finds hope in AfCTA as Kenya's trade barriers create some problems

Uganda finds hope in AfCTA as Kenya's trade barriers create some problems
  • Uganda's government sees the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) as a long-term solution to Kenya's unreliable non-tariff barriers (NTBs). 
  • Ugandan businesses are securing new markets in Nigeria and South Africa, diversifying their export opportunities beyond Kenya. 
  • The AfCTA presents a unique opportunity for Ugandan businesses to access and expand into the continent's commercial markets, potentially boosting their exports to new countries.

The prospects provided by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) are being viewed by the Ugandan government as the long-term remedies to Kenya's unreliable non-tariff barriers (NTBs).

Mr. Frederick Gume Ngobi, the State Minister for Co-operatives at the Ministry of Trade, Industries, and Co-operatives, revealed that the expansion of Uganda's market will put an end to all the chaos brought on by NTBs even as they continue to communicate with Kenya, which has since reduced issuing permits for Uganda's powdered milk by 20%.

“We are now securing other bigger markets where we can sell our products not only milk but also other products. We have already secured markets from Nigeria and South Africa for many of these other products,” he said at the sidelines of the Private Sector Dialogue on Harnessing Opportunities brought by AfCTA in Kampala on Monday.

Mr. Ngobi said this is not a significant problem as portrayed by the media at a time when Ugandan milk farmers are struggling to obtain export licenses for powdered milk in Kenya.

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“That one should not bother us much because we always have dialogues under the East African Community (EAC). There are laws that govern us in the community and that will be addressed. It cannot be a problem. We have not had any disagreement and I don't think we have failed to access the market in East Africa because we have protocols that guide us,” he said.

Kenya is Uganda's largest trading partner in Africa, importing 11.2% of all exports from Uganda, followed by South Sudan (8.51%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Tanzania (2.29%), and Sudan (2.16%).

Uganda's exports are heavily regionalized, with 52% of them going to Africa, of which 41% is consumed by the EAC. AfCFTA has the potential to alter markets and economies all over the continent, according to Ms. Elsie Attafuah, the UNDP resident representative.

“AfCFTA is, therefore, more than a pledge to eliminate tariffs, cut red tape, or simplify customs checks. It is a unique opportunity to create an integrated, continentwide market and a vital step towards building the Africa we want,” she said.

The AfCFTA offers Ugandan businesses a potential opportunity to get access to the continent's commercial markets, according to Ms. Olive Kigongo, president of the Uganda Chambers of Commerce and Industries (UCCI). This will allow them to dramatically increase their exports to new countries.

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The secretary general of AfCTA, Mr. Mene Wamkele, urged nations to promote intra-African commerce so that commodities from outside of Africa would become more costly and unnecessary.

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