The impact of COVIG-19 on global trade is beginning to manifest.
Latest figures indicate that Uganda’s exports declined by US$31m (Shs117.2bn) from US$383.62 million in January,2020 to US$352.91 million in February 2020.
This was revealed by Amelia Anne Kyambadde (pictured), Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives while addressing the press at Uganda Media Centre yesterday about the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) her ministry is implementing in light of the COVID-19.
“Imports have declined from US$711.99 million in January,2020 to US$701.34 million in February,2020 and US$593.79 Million in March,2020,” Kyambadde said.
She however said Uganda has registered a number of achievements during this crisis including putting up a salt processing plant with a capacity of 192,000MT/year.
“Many Ugandans have embraced e-commerce and this has seen many online businesses flourishing,” the Minister said, adding: “All factories producing essential commodities remained operational. 38 companies producing 43 brands of hand sanitizers and disinfectants have been certified by UNBS.”
She also revealed that commodity prices have gown down.
“The hike in prices which occurred at the time of the anticipated lockdown was as a result of panic buying and increasing demand especially in the Kampala Metropolitan area. However, the current statistics show that the prices of various commodities are normalizing countrywide. For example, a kilo of sugar has gone down to Shs3600 from Shs6,000; a kilo of salt from Shs5,000 back to Shs3,000; cooking oil is down to Shs5,000 a liter from Shs7,000; a kilo of maize flour is now in the range of Shs2,200 – 3,000 per kg from Shs6,000 this is due to low demand and low purchasing power. This is in addition to the availability of other food substitutes like matooke, cassava, whose prices have remained stable – thanks to the continued free movement of cargo,” she said.
She however said the price of beans has remained high, ranging from Shs4,500 to Shs6,000 a kilo.
“There is scarcity of beans because farmers are keeping them for their own consumption,” she said.
Movement of Cargo Trucks
Kyambadde said truck drivers and crew appear to be the main new threat of spreading COVID-19. “Hitherto, three passengers have been allowed to move as part of the truck crew. In an effort to stem the threat from this route and following guidance by H.E the President during his address on 19th April 2020, we have consulted key stakeholders in the industry and agreed that passengers in the truck must not exceed two – the truck driver and one other person. Trucks will be electronically monitored and the crew must adhere to the Public Health Guidelines in place, and not mix with the locals along the transit routes. There will be designated stop points for international cargo trucks,” she said.
The Minister noted that cargo trucks carrying exports to Rwanda are being allowed to enter through Mirama Hills, but there are reports of denial of entry to Ugandan trucks transiting to Burundi.
“Initially, Burundi had closed its border, but following a series of engagements they opened it. We will be engaging Rwanda at political level to allow Ugandan trucks transit to Burundi, after all we are allowing theirs to transit through here,” she said.