Uganda’s sustainable investment in trade facilitation and the positive strides undertaken by local manufactures in improving the quality of local products has contributed to Uganda’s readiness to conquer bigger markets especially the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Amelia Kyambadde, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperative, has said.
Kyambadde made the remarks while officiating at the National Consultative Forum organized by TradeMark EA and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) at Golf Course Hotel in Kampala today.
Kyambadde noted that Uganda in good shape to reap from the bigger markets that AfCFTA will open.
“We have implemented several trade facilitation measures such as Electronic Single Window; Electronic Cargo Tracking; One Stop Border Posts; Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) identification and removal mechanism, Yellow Card Scheme and the Border Export Zones, among others…” Kyambadde said.
She added that the Vision of the National Trade Policy is to transform Uganda into a dynamic and competitive economy in which the trade sector stimulates the productive sectors and to trade the Country out of poverty, into wealth and prosperity.
“Our strategy on market access for Ugandan goods and services includes capacity building for the private sector to take advantage of these market opportunities plus provision of the necessary trade infrastructure such as affordable electricity and improved road network to ease logistics,” she noted.
According to a preliminary report on the anticipated results of AfCFTA, “The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will increase Uganda’s intra-African trade by reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers on trade with African countries.”
Africa as a regional market has already overtaken the European Union (EU) to become Uganda’s most important trading partner, with trade shares increasing from around 22 percent in 1995 to more than 30 percent by 2018.
In terms of export values, Uganda now exports over 50 percent of its total exports to Africa, a figure far higher than the shares of other East African countries, highlighting the importance of the AfCFTA to Uganda.
Nonetheless, Moses Sabiiti, the Country Director for TradeMark East Africa Uganda noted that while the entry into force of AfCFTA on 30th May, 2019 brought with it a lot of excitement and expectation for Africa growth through increased trade and investment, ‘a huge challenge faces the partner states on how to actualise the bold vision the AfCFTA encapsulates.’
“Some of the challenges constraining intra Africa trade are: a) Overlapping membership in regional economic groupings; b) Institutional capacity to negotiate and implement integration instruments and tools such as administration of rules of origin and c) Continued existence of political and security conflicts that limit survival of economic activities and seamless flow of cross border trade and foreign direct investment,” Sabiiti said.
He added: “To unlock these challenges, the UNCTAD Economic Development in Africa Report 2019 notes that by agreeing to harmonise trade liberalisation regimes through the AfCFTA, African Countries would boost their chances to trade more, promote economic diversification and deepen their integration agenda.”
Some 27 African countries have so far ratified their AfCFTA agreements. If all the remaining African countries were to ratify their AfCFTA protocols today, Africa with an estimated 1.3 billion population will become the biggest open market in the world.
The AfCFTA is an agreement that integrates the economies of all the 55 African countries.
Under the AfCFTA, members have committed to liberalize trade among parties covering trade in goods and services.
The parties to the AfCFTA have a combined GDP of over USD 2.255 trillion, population of over 1.3 billion people, which makes it the largest FTA in the world.
By Drake Nyamugabwa