Uganda exports 47.2 per cent of its goods within Africa, according to Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde.
While making a case for the adoption of the African Continental Free Trade Area, Ms Kyambadde told Parliament that Africa remains the single largest recipient of Uganda’s exports, which have increased from $0.89b in 2014 to $1.6b in 2018.
“We intend to boost [this trajectory] with the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement,” she said, noting that Uganda has everything to gain from the continental free trade initiative, considering that Africa’s intra-trade has been increasing over time.
Already, government has put in place a Cabinet sub-committee to fast track Uganda’s penetration into the broader market and to ensure the country’s competitiveness once the agreement is ratified.
Ms Kyambadde also told Parliament that: “Uganda stands to benefit from expanded trade, stimulation of increased production, increase in trade in services, and creation of employment.”
An 18th Ordinary Session of Assembly of the African Union held in 2012 recognised the importance of promoting intra-African trade as a fundamental factor for sustainable economic development, employment generation and effective integration of Africa into the global economy.
The proposal to open up borders, it was discussed must be subsequently adopted to boost intra-African trade as well as fast tracking the African Continental Free Trade Area”.
Uganda, Ms Kyambadde said, will mainly put focus on livestock products notably dairy and beef, coffee, tea, iron and steel, among others.
These, she said, are already privileged exports many of which come from Uganda.
Other focus areas, she noted, will be education, tourism, business services and infrastructure services.
Success of the trade area
According to Mr Martin Luther Munnu, a regional and integration analyst, the success of African Continental Free Trade Area will be hinged on the actions of stakeholders and not words. Africa signed an agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area on March 21, 2018 during an AU session in Kigali, Rwanda.