Both exports and imports declined for the second month running, according to data from Bank of Uganda.
This, according to the Central Bank, resulted from the global economic lockdowns that were necessitated by the need to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
According to the report running to March, export receipts declined by 11 per cent while imports dropped by 10 per cent.
Imports declined to $492m in March up from $548m in February, according to the Central Bank.
Imports from Asia reported the largest decline from $246m to $243m in February while those from EU dropped to $34.5m from $88.1m.
However, during the period, government imports increased by 54 per cent to $32.1m (Shs118b) up from $20.2m (Shs74b) in February, while private sector imports declined by 14 per cent from $528m (Shs2 trillion) in February to $460m (Shs1.7 trillion).
Oil imports declined to $71m (Shs269b) from $81m (Shs307b), while non-oil imports fell by 15 per cent from $440m in February to $383m.
Exports receipts also fell with gold, which has for some three years been Uganda’s largest export commodity declining by 46 per cent to $60.9m (Shs231b) down from $89m (Shs338b) in February.
The report also indicates that coffee, which is the country’s largest agricultural export, suffered a slight decline in earnings from $46.7m to $45.8m.
Cotton exports during the period declined to $3.9m (Shs14b) from $7m (Shs26b) in February, while flower exports fell to $3.2m (Shs12b) from $5.4m (Shs20b) in the period.
Uganda exports much of its flowers to Europe, which has been under lockdowns with auction markets operating below capacity.
Recently, Ms Esther Nekambi, the Uganda Flowers Export Association executive director, said they had registered a huge decline in both exports volumes and earnings.
“Our members reduced export volumes because most of the orders were cancelled. This is because the destination countries went into lockdown,” she said, noting many of the exporters had been exporting through agents whose supply capacity was mostly limited to supermarkets.
“Right now it is still early to quantify how much the country has lost but most members have set up camps to allow their workers to work in shifts,” she said in April.
Maize, which is mainly exported to neighbouring countries, also suffered a decline, fetching earnings of $7.8m (Shs30b) from $10m (Shs41b) in February.