Ugandan products will have to measure up to South Africa’s standards despite both countries being part of an inter-regional arrangement.
Uganda and South Africa are part of the 26 member states that have signed the Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement which allows member states to access each other’s markets. The two states also have other binding arrangements meant to improve trade and investment between the two countries.
Speaking at the second South Africa – Uganda Joint Trade Committee meeting in Pretoria last week, the South African Deputy Minister of Trade, Gratitude Bulelani Magwanishe, said Uganda must “fight hard” for her products to reach the Southern African country shelves.
Mr Magwanishe also cautioned that Uganda will have to work at improving her exports to South Africa.
“The onus is on Uganda to work harder in improving exports to South Africa,” he said.
Mr Magwanishe added: “South Africa is committed to facilitating trade and investment flows between the two countries as contained in the Trade Agreement signed in 2002 and in keeping with the principles of the Tripartite Free Trade Area negotiations.”
Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde was concerned about the imbalanced trade and investment flows between the two countries—Uganda and South Africa.
Imports from South Africa are mainly processed and manufactured products that include; flat rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel, transport goods vehicles, electricity meters, semi-finished products of iron and non- alloy steel, apples and medicine. Uganda exports mainly coffee.
Ms Kyambadde further noted that although there are 60 South African companies operating in Uganda, this is not the case for Ugandan companies in South Africa. They operate in the financial, telecommunications, hospitality industry, power generation and manufacturing sectors, respectively. Notable companies are: Stanbic Bank, MTN Uganda, Shoprite, Game, Eskom and Woolworth.
“There is need to enhance Uganda’s market access and improve our trade relations which calls for flexibility, reciprocity and preferential access to your market,” Ms Kyambadde told her counterpart.