Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde has said non-tariff barriers (NTBs) are greatly affecting Uganda’s competitiveness in the East African market.
Speaking at the commissioning of the NTB reporting system in Kampala yesterday, the minister said the government is trying to hold talks with its Rwandan counterparts to lift some NTBs on Ugandan traders.
“The government is engaging in talks with Rwanda to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to eliminate NTBs,” she said.
NTBs like police roadblocks, weigh bridges, poor transport infrastructure and high levels of taxes imposed on the Uganda traders in the past, have greatly affected the country’s trade sector.
“In 2005, the East African Community (EAC) member states signed a customs union protocol to ease trade within the countries and in 2012, a common market was created. But despite all these developments, NTBs still exist” said the minister.
“In 2012, we experienced a gain in trade earnings after some NTBs were lifted in the region from Shs4.5 billion to Shs5.5 billion,” Ms Kyambadde added.
She said trade in the East African region contributes 13 per cent against the 87 per cent of the total trade volume from the rest of the world.
The minister also credited Kenya for allowing sugar from Uganda to be sold in its market .
“Kenya promised to give us a licence to allow our sugar into their country,” she said.
Trademark East Africa (TMEA), a partnering organisation with the Ministry of Trade in the elimination of NTBs applauded the EAC trade member’s response to the elimination of NTBs. TMEA country director Allen Asiimwe applauded Kenya for the removal of the 1.6 per cent levy that had been placed on Ugandan goods passing through the region as well as removal of police road blocks along the trade routes.
“In 2012, Trademark East Africa signed a $1.4 million contract with the Ministry of Trade to facilitate in the elimination of NTBs and am glad to see the success of our efforts,” she said.
NTB REPORTING TOOL AND WHAT IT IS MEANT TO ACHIEVE
The non-tarrif barriers (NTB) reporting tool is a result of the 2008 directive from the Trade ministry to put in place a tool for reporting NTBS in the East African region. The reporting system is designed to be used by anyone trading within EAC by use of a mobile phone through the internet and message phone services.
The service will be available for mobile phone users connected to MTN, UTL, Airtel and Orange telecommunications networks. The NTBS reporting tool is meant to eliminate NTBS, harmonising of weigh bridges between Uganda and Kenya, ensuring quality standards and putting in place a one-stop customs programme in the region.