Trade blockades remain thorn in Uganda’s export trade, says PSFU

Mr Stephen Asiimwe (Centre) speaks during the Private Sector Gala in Kampala early this week. Photo /  Jonathan Kamoga  

What you need to know:

  • Uganda has suffered under trade blockades announced by partner states in the East African region 

Persistent non-tariff barriers, otherwise known as trade blockades, across regional markets continue to impact growth of Uganda’s private sector, further delaying the country’s recovery from the aftershocks of Covid-19. 

Speaking at the inaugural Private Sector Gala hosted by Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), sector players urged government to address unjustified trade blockades across East Africa. 

Mr Stephen Asiimwe, the PSFU chief executive officer, said hopes of improved private sector growth had this year been bogged down by non-tariff barriers with several exporters  blocked from key markets such as Kenya and South Sudan.

“This year, one of our main challenges was standoffs with South Sudan over maize, and Kenya over milk. They impacted the private sector,” he said.

In May, over 40 Ugandan trucks transporting maize produce were impounded on their way to Juba by the South Sudan Bureau of Standards.

Earlier, in March, Kenya, for the up tenth time blocked Uganda’s milk products from its market reportedly to protect local farmers. Both countries  are key trading partners with Uganda. 

Mr Asiimwe, however, said that apart from non-tariff barriers, private sector growth had suffered under a poor road network to key markets, expensive air transport and slow progress on the standard gauge railway, which is billed to cut transport costs and time.

Nonetheless, Mr Humphrey Nzeyi, the PSFU chairperson, said amid the challenges, the private sector had this year recorded some positives such as influencing tax and budgetary decisions. 

“PSFU was instrumental in advocating for a better tax regime and budget allocations and to this end 78 percent of suggestions we made during the budget cycle were adopted,” he said. 

The PSFU Gala seeks to give the private sector, government and development partners a chance to network and seek more developmental partnerships. 

During the gala, PSFU unveiled several partnerships including with UNHCR, UN Women and KCCA, which it said will help the private sector to explore business opportunities in refugee settlements and empower more women as well as mitigating climate change issues. 

Investment State Minister Evelyn Anite, said government was in advanced stages of addressing challenge of access to the market for the private sector by implementing measures under  the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.