Uganda’s balance of trade with Kenya is now more or less equal, with Uganda importing goods worth US$600 million (about Shs2 trillion) from Kenya while Kenya imports goods worth about US$500 million (about Sh1.9 trillion) from Uganda.
Uganda’s Consul General in Mombasa Phillip Katureebe Tayebwa says six years ago, the country imported goods worth US$700 million (about Sh2.2 trillion) from Kenya while Kenya imported goods worth $150 million (about Sh555 billion) in return but that has now changed.
Tayebwa spoke while announcing the third Trade and Business Facilitation Symposium, organized by the Ugandan Consulate in Kenya, to be held Mombasa next week.
The official attributed this to the growth and stabilisation of the Ugandan economy which has seen more production of goods and services in the recent years as industries and other corporates get established as a result of promoting the country as an investment destination.
“Most of our goods pass through the Mombasa port, whose improvement and the establishment of the SGR are a major boost for our trade,” said Tayebwa.
Speaking to journalists at the Ugandan consulate in Mombasa, Tayebwa said the cordial relationship that the two neighbouring countries enjoy is significant in boosting trade and economic growth in both countries.
The symposium will bring together at least 300 public and private sector players from both countries to discuss issues that affect trade between the two countries and especially along the Northern Corridor.
Tayebwa said the Ugandan consul general from Guangzhou (China), the High Commissioner in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), the ambassadors in UAE and Qatar, captains of industry in both Kenya and Uganda, are among those expected to attend the symposium.
The first and second symposia were held in Guangzhou, China in 2017 and 2018.
However, there were complaints about the distance people had to travel to get to the symposia, forcing the organizers to consider venues closer home.
There are already proposals to have the next symposium held in Kampala or Dar es Salaam.
Tayebwa said the symposium will discuss issues that affect businessmen from both countries when trading.
He, however, said there are no longer major trade barriers between the two East African Community member states.
The Consul General said the one-stop border posts and efforts to reduce stoppages while are in transit are working magic.
“Around 2012, 2013, we had almost 100 road blocks between the Mombasa port and Uganda. This was reduced to 23, the number got down to five and now we are almost getting to two – at the Mombasa port and the border,” said Tayebwa.
He said the halt of the construction of the SGR is nothing to be worried about saying the SGR is a major regional project that requires a lot of ground work.
“When eating, you have to take breaks. You cannot just be throwing food into the mouth non-stop. You will choke,” said Tayebwa.
“China people have committed themselves to this project. There is a halt but not a stop,” said the official.
He said that there has been a misconception that with the advent of the SGR, the Meter Gauge Railway has been discarded. “The rehabilitation of the MGR is a mitigation measure in the short run,” he said.