SMEs rallied to acquaint selves with rules on continental free trade area  

There are currently less than 20 per cent of SMEs exporting and those exporting with in the African Continental Free Trade Area. 

What you need to know:

  • Mr Walugembe explained that with AfCFTA, people should be able to export beyond the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), as this would ensure that many SMEs are sourceable, and add value.

In Uganda for most Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country, penetrating continental markets will remain a challenge unless they acquaint themselves with the relevant rules and regulations.

 Mr John Walugembe Executive Director, Federation of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, said there are currently less than 20 per cent of SMEs exporting and those exporting with in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) are less than 5 per cent, which he says is very low.

 He revealed this recently during a project event of appointing leaders of SMEs who had received training to export in the AfCTA under the SMEs4 trade Initiative that is headed by the Ministry of trade.  

 “We have capacitated them with skills to be export ready, meeting export requirements when it comes to standards, delivery on time, using digital and social media in order to stay in touch with their clients rules of origin. They must show that their products originate from Uganda through robust rules of origin,” Mr Walugembe said.

“Most African countries trade more with outside continents than themselves and this is what we want to cure through this training. By Africans trading more with each other, they cushion themselves from unfriendly trade terms and other challenges. Less than 30 SMEs were exporting across borders, what we want to see now, is that the rest are also able to export and not only in the neighbouring countries, but also to other countries,” he further explained.

 Mr Walugembe explained that with AfCFTA, people should be able to export beyond the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), as this would ensure that many SMEs are sourceable, and add value.

 “The trade potential is very huge; we are looking at a combined GDP of about 3t and about 1.3b consumers and those SMEs have an opportunity to take advantage of this opportunity,” he said.

 Ms Amelia Kyambadde, a senior Presidential advisor on trade and Industry, said they have had a detailed engagement with SMEs and most of them are happy to take up that offer.

Ms Kyambadde advised people not to just look at commodities but look at other services Ugandans can trade. The former trade minister noted that clients do not look at the nitty-gritty of the business but rather the commodities penetrating the market. 

“We negotiated this big continental trading block, taking into consideration a number of factors such as having a broader market for our people and employment for the youth, women and promoting our products in the region,” she said.


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