Ministry of Trade PS Geraldine Ssali in Anti-Corruption court dock Ministry of Trade PS Geraldine Ssali in dock at the Anti-Corruption

Japanese are not wise traders, says Museveni

President of Uganda and Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Yoweri Museveni delivers his speech during the closing session of the 19th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement in Kampala on January 20, 2024. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • Majority cars driven in Uganda are foreign manufactured but there have been recent gains with the country producing some fully electric auto motors.

President Museveni on Saturday said “Japanese are not wise traders” as he issued a stark warning that he would no longer tolerate intent by foreign industrial companies to merely assemble instead of manufacturing in Uganda.

Closing the weeklong Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Kampala, Museveni on Saturday accused Japanese investors and the West of failing to appropriately deploy the principle of aggregate demand at the expense of African and global south countries.

“All clans of Japanese vehicles are here. Since 1962, we have been buying a lot of vehicles from Japan... but Japanese are not wise traders,” he said.

“I told them--- you Japanese, we are enriching you with our pockets…Why don’t you come and assemble these vehicles in Uganda? They were not interested. I see you want to take blood from me, but you don’t want to give some blood to me,” he explained.

While there are just under 3 million vehicles in Uganda, majority cars driven in the country are foreign manufactured but there have been recent gains with the nation producing some fully electric auto motors.

“Now, my Japanese people came saying we want to assemble vehicles here, but I said too late, sorry. I’m no longer interested in assembling but I only want manufacturing, if you don’t want bye-bye,” Museveni said.  

Uganda and Japan historically have a friendly relationship with no major diplomatic row in more than 20 years.

Meanwhile, Ugandan leader called on the forum of 121 countries to capitalize on their estimated 6 billion people population for larger product market.  

“The NAM countries should not be part of this blindness of thinking I should only buy from you as you buy nothing from me,” he remarked in Kampala.

“We should promote trade amongst ourselves because when I buy from you, I’m supporting you prosperity and when you buy from me, you are supporting my prosperity,” he added.

Earlier, Museveni urged NAM countries to deepen cooperation for global affluence, per the theme of the gathering in Uganda.  

“I don’t think we (NAM) are helpless but because we are not organized, we look helpless. The ones who are helpless are the other small group. We are going to continue exploring for new ways of affordable funding and we can do it,” he observed.