Middle East leads Uganda’s exports market, earnings

Thursday September 19 2019

Improved. Gold exports have in the period

Improved. Gold exports have in the period running between January and July forced a tremendous improvement in Uganda’s export earnings. FILE PHOTO  

By Dorothy Nakaweesi

Uganda exported more goods to the Middle East than any other region for the year ended July, according to data from Bank of Uganda.
In a report published by the Central Bank for the seven-months ending July, export receipts were recorded at $2.5b (Shs9.1 trillion) with $779.8m (Shs2.8 trillion) of the total coming from the Middle East.
The bulk of Uganda’s exports to the region went to United Arab Emirates which contributed $758.95m while Saudi Arabia contributed $2.78m. Exports to Israel, which the Central Bank categorises under the Middle East region, earned Uganda $10.15m.

Middle East was followed by Comesa from which Uganda earned $708m (Shs2.5 trillion) in the period while EU regarded as one of the Uganda’s major traditional export destination recorded $287.8m (Shs1 trillion).

Changing trends
Uganda’s exports destination trends have been changing overtime. The European Union and Comesa had for long been a leading destination before facing tough competition from the Middle East.
Growing gold exports, especially to the United Arab Emirates, could be the reason behind the changing trends.

During the period, export receipt from gold stood at $834m (Shs3 trillion), becoming Uganda’s leading foreign exchange earner.
Mr John Lwere, the Uganda Export Promotion Board trade and information executive, said yesterday: “Gold is responsible for the changing trends in exports leaning towards Middle East,” noting that there has been some good research in the sector which could explain the growth.

The report also indicates that export receipts from the Comesa region stood at $340m (Shs1.2 trillion) in the period with the leading market being DR Congo.
Formal exports to Democratic Republic of Congo fetched $140 million (Shs511b) while informal exports earned Uganda $200 million (Shs730b).
Uganda and the DR Congo in July launched the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System, which Mr Dickson Kateshumbwa, the URA commissioner customs, said was important to facilitate regional trade.

Kenya’s contribution
Exports to Kenya fetched $286.2m (Shs1 trillion) while South Sudan, which is gradually stabilising, earned Uganda $217.5m (Shs793b).
However, export receipts from Rwanda were lower than in the same period last year, fetching only $37m (Shs124b).
Border woes between the two countries continue to affect trade and movement. Efforts have been put in place to resolve the dispute.
Exports to the European Union, which largely went to Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany earned Uganda $287.8m (Shs1b) in the period for the seven moths leading to July.