Kampala. Japan is pushing for a bilateral agreement with Uganda in a bid to expand and strengthen trade and investment between the two countries.
While meeting the Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde at her office in Kampala last week, Japanese Ambassador to Uganda Kazuaki Kameda, said his government is considering starting preliminary consultations with Uganda, to exchange opinions on the possibility of initiating official negotiation as soon as possible.
He said there are a number of areas to be covered in this agreement with emphasis on trade promotion and protection of investments.
Mr Kazuaki requested the government of Uganda to look at the possible timing and place of negotiations.
“Uganda has been a long time business partner with Japan and it is the reason why Japan would like to renew and strengthen this relationship further for mutual benefits,” he added.
Mr Kazuaki also lobbied Uganda to support Japan’s candidature to host the Olympics in 2025. He informed the minister that Japan has picked interest to host the World Exposition in Osaka in 2025 competing with France, so far.
He added that Uganda and Japan have had a cordial relationship, diplomatic relations since independence in 1962 and that Japan has made a contribution in private investments in the industrialisation drive of Uganda especially through manufacturing, value addition and employment creation.
Ms Kyambadde welcomed the initiative, saying it comes at a critical time when Uganda is working towards reducing the trade deficit between the two countries.
“Uganda’s main exports to Japan include coffee, tea and spices which are valued at $4.6m, oil seeds valued at $4.5m, iron and steel at $2.1m and fish at $1m. On the side of imports, Uganda mainly imports vehicles from Japan which are valued at $240.5m. Other imports include iron and steel ($47.2m), machinery and mechanical appliances ($17.3m),” she said, adding that it is time for Japan to start tapping into the enormous investment opportunities in Uganda particularly in agribusiness, focusing on value addition, improvement on the storage facilities through construction of warehouses and silos and fisheries.
She said opportunities are available for fish farming and establishment of more fish processing factories on other lakes other than Lake Victoria; manufacturing; energy renewable energy; mining; petroleum and investment in services such as health, education and financial services.
The two officials agreed to renew the negotiations with the view to boost their bilateral agreements in areas of promoting trade, investments and value addition among others.
How they benefited
Data from the ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan website indicates that as of June 2015, Uganda’s exports to Japan amounted to (Japanese Yen) JPY510m (Shs16.6b)
The good were coffee, fish and sesame among others.)
On the other hand, imports from Japan amounted to JPY 19.8b (Shs645b) mainly automobile and steel.
Currently, Uganda’s imports from Japan are valued at about $346.8m (Shs1.2 trillion) whereas what Uganda exports to Japan is only valued at $14.6m (Shs53b).