State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Okello Oryem
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said the Ministry has long recognized that international trade can play a major role in the promotion of economic development and the alleviation of poverty.
According to the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Okello Oryem, Uganda’s exports increased from $2.687bn (Shs9.5 trillion) in FY 2015/16 to $3.799bn (Shs13.5 trillion) in FY 2019/20 representing a growth of 41.38%.
He says the United Arab Emirates is number one Uganda’s export market followed by Kenya, DRC, South Sudan, Rwanda, Turkey, and Netherlands respectively.
During the period under review, Okello Oryem said, in a bid to widen export promotion, Uganda engaged with a number of countries through bilateral negotiations, Joint Permanent Commissions (with Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia), symposiums and exhibitions to facilitate trade in the region and with the rest of the world.
“The engagements in the region have helped to reduce trade restrictions hindering Uganda’s exports,” he said at the OPM auditorium on Friday afternoon as he presented his ministry’s achievements in the 2016-2021 NRM manifesto.
For example on 12th April 2021, a joint Ministerial Committee meeting between Uganda and Kenya was held in Kampala to discuss and resolve among others, the issues of Sugar, Maize, milk, poultry, meat, eggs and all Non-Tariff Barriers affecting trade between the two Countries.
The meeting agreed on a number areas including: Uganda shall export 90,000mt of wholly originating sugar per annum; Kenya will share with Uganda the food and crop standards regulations to enable compliance by players in export trade between the two countries; each country shall amend the applicable laws to bring them into conformity with the EAC customs union protocol with effect from 1 st July 2021 regarding restrictive measures such as imposition of taxes of goods by both countries.
The Ministry will continue working with relevant stakeholders to implement the decisions agreed upon in the joint Communique, Okello Oryem said.
Okello Oryem said insecurity and lawlessness has affected the bilateral relations especially through ambushes that disrupt movement of goods and people. There has also been several cases of killings and mistreatment of Ugandans working/doing business in South Sudan, border incursions and refugee influx.
“Uganda through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has engaged South Sudan Authorities on border issues especially on the Elegu border standoff. The movement of traffic to South Sudan has now resumed,” he said.
Uganda in partnership with DRC has agreed to build 5 roads and one bridge (Mpondwe/Kasindi Road 80km; Beni-Butembo 54km; Bunagana- Rutshuru road 89km; Nebbi-Goli-Mahagi- Bunia 181km; Rwebisengo-Budiba-Bunia including construction of a bridge across River Semuliki), to boost trade and relations between the 2 countries. These were agreed during the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC).
“We have also agreed on marine transport on Lakes Albert and Edward,” Okello Oryem said.
Engagements are still ongoing with Rwanda through bilateral and multilateral consultations to normalize bilateral trade. Okello Oryem says Uganda is also seeking alternative markets beyond the region for export of Uganda’s products such as Diary and Dairy Products, Beef, poultry, maize.
For example, in August 2020, Algeria agreed in principle to import Uganda’s diary and dairy products in the form of powdered milk. “Government has already sent samples to Algeria which are currently undergoing tests,” he confirmed.
In terms of investment, Okello Oryem says 11 investors have been mobilized to invest in Uganda.
They are; German Firm SUN farming GmbH agreed to Invest USD 50 Million in Food and Energy Projects in Uganda. The firm is to partner with the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development to carry out the project at the Institute; Hainan Qinfu Co. Ltd obtained an investment license from UIA on 24th October 2018 to invest US $ 179million in freshwater aquaculture; a Dubai based company, Al Rawabi Farms, was attracted to establish a $100m farm in Masaka; Shanghai GreeChain Company signed an agreement on 15th December 2018 to strategically cooperate with HO& MU Co. Ltd; an Egyptian company manufacturing transformers and electric meters; an Egypt- Uganda food security company ltd was established on Bombo road; an MOU has been signed between the Ministry of Defense and Egypt on animal breeding; Germany firm, M/s RIELA company, was linked to ESIA Mixed Farm which installed a grain post-harvest handling storage and seed preservation facility in Adjumani and Citinkaya Textiles, the biggest textile manufacturer in Kayseri – Turkey, agreed to make an investment worth $76m in Cotton processing.
Others include a Dutch company, Koudijs, has stated building a poultry feed factory with initial investment with Euro 800,000; the Uganda Women Traders Association established partnership with Yesilyuva; Ayakkabi shoe factory in Denizli with a view to acquire machinery and technology to locally add value to Ugandan leather and produce high quality shoes and other leather products in Uganda for export; Uganda Liao Shen Industrial started its operations at Kapeeka, Nakaseke district. The Park offers more than 16,000 jobs to Ugandans indirectly and directly; Liuyang National Economic Development Zone committed to develop Hunan-Uganda industrial park following the mission to Uganda from 10th-23rd August 2018 and Sukulu industrial park in Tororo District was launched by the President in 2018.
Foreign Affairs had pledged to construct/rehabilitate all Uganda’s missions abroad including purchase of properties to house identified strategic missions.
Okello Oryem reports that whereas commendable progress has been made in the area of constructing/rehabilitating all missions abroad, MoFA did not construct Chanceries in Guangzhou and Abuja due to inadequate budget.
The other pledge was fast-tracking implementation of national key infrastructure projects to enhance the country’s competitiveness while at the same time preparing to eventually fit into the EAC convergence criteria.
However, Okello Oryem says fast-tracking implementation of national key Northern Corridor infrastructure projects has been slow due to strained relations between Uganda and Rwanda.
Okello Oryem says protectionism by some of our neighboring states regarding trade related matters, insecurity in some of neighboring countries, inadequate funding for commercial diplomacy and Covid-19 outbreak were some of the challenges that faced Foreign Affairs Ministry in the past 5 years.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has continued to play its part in implementation of the NRM Manifesto commitments. The existing challenges notwithstanding, we are committed to the realization of Uganda’s social economic transformation and development. Based on what was pledged, the Ministry performed at 90%,” he concluded.
BY Francis Otucu