UGANDA – Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde has disclosed that the government is preparing to negotiate with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the possibility of the two neighbouring countries furthering their trade ties.
According to Ms Kyambadde, the talks are intended to pave way for more penetration of Uganda’s exports into the large DRC market, thereby reducing reliance on the troubled South Sudan.
Speaking during the opening of the Trade Facilitation Expo on Friday, Ms Kyambadde said the talks will be held in the next two months so that traders and manufacturers, especially those affected by the South Sudan civil war can take refuge in the large DRC market as the situation in South Sudan stabilises.
Talks due in September
The minister said: “We will hold talks with the government of DR Congo in September to broker a deal with the authority to make the DRC market our trade destination.”
She continued: “We are looking at DRC replacing the South Sudan market and becoming our major destination as well.”
Ms Kyambadde’s remarks followed the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) Board chairman, Mr Patrick Bitature’s concern about how South Sudan political troubles are affecting trade between the two neighbouring countries.
Presenting a quarterly report earlier in the year, Ms Kyambadde said: “I encourage people to start trade with DR Congo. It [DRC] being the current Comesa chair, we are asking them to create a conducive environment for trade with them.”
Private Sector members who attended the expo told Ms Kyambadde that the cost of power is too high.
They also said that widespread counterfeit products on the market are rendering their genuine products worthless and uncompetitive.
Uganda registers export revenue decline
South Sudan is Uganda’s biggest trading partner with annual export revenue of more than Shs890 billion (about $358 million) as per the 2013 data from the ministry of Trade. Out of trade with South Sudan, Uganda earns a monthly income of Shs74.6 billion per month and Shs2.45 billion per day.
According to the Ministry of Trade, manufacturers have so far registered a 61 per cent decline with exports falling from Shs2.3 billion to Shs895 million per month.
The volume of Ugandan exports to South Sudan, according to ministry of trade and Uganda Manufactures Association, data declined by about 60 per cent since the war broke out towards the end of last year.
DR Congo market is the third In terms of Uganda’s export destination after Sudan (South and North) and Kenya, according to Uganda Export Promotion Board figures. Last year, Uganda’s exports worth $268 million (about Shs700 billion) made its way to the DRC market.