Uganda and South Korea have commenced a project aimed at increasing and diversifying the former’s exports to the latter, which is in line with the National Development Plan II and the National Export Development Strategy.
The 12-year project, dubbed, ‘Market-Linked Korea’, is funded by Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation Trust Fund (KOAFEC) to the tune of US$ 500,000.
Through the project, Uganda is expected to grow its exports to South Korea especially coffee, tea and spices and olive trees among others.
John Lwere of Uganda Export Promotions Board (UEPB), market-focused studies will be done on behalf of the local exporters to identify high potential sectors, market entry requirements and trends, and most importantly potential customers.
“This information will be shared with exporters interested in this market,” said Lwere.
He notes that through the export readiness program and business development support component, UEPB will assess interested exporters for readiness to export to South Korea.
“Export –ready companies will be linked to potential buyers. Others will be supported depending on the identified need and available resources,” said Lwere.
Under the project, UEPB will work closely with the exporters to ensure that prospective buyer has all information necessary to make a buying decision including addressing all buyer needs.
The agency and stakeholders also organize a Sales Mission to South Korea where a tailored itinerary of appointments with interested buyers, the shipment of samples, assistance with inland travel and logistics to the meeting places will be done.
UEPB will further provide aftercare services to exporters to ensure that they fulfil export orders and for continuous in-market support.
Uganda and South Korea have had a cordial relationship and diplomatic relations since 2014. Uganda exported to Korea goods worth US$ 1.34 million in 2016, US$ 0.21 million in 2017and US$1.03 million in 2018. Imports from Korea were; US$0.46 million in 2016, US$0.69 million in 2017 and US$0.86 million in 2018.
Uganda’s Major exports to Korea are mainly agricultural products such as coffee, tea and spices; and live trees and other plant bulbs.
Specifically, coffee exports were; US$ 1.34 milllion, US$ 0.21 million and US$ 0.56 million in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively, Tea and spices were; US$ 0.004 million and US$ 0.17 million in 2017 and 2018 respectively, while Live trees and other plant bulbs were; US$ 0.004M and US$ 0.001million in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Uganda majorly imports from Korea items such as; bulldozers, graders, excavators, levellers, machines and other mechanical appliances, laboratory equipment, automatic data processing machines, office machines, pharmaceuticals.
The project, MarketLinked Korea, will assist all Ugandan producers and exporters of products with potential market in South Korea. But the products must be compliant with the minimum standards, health and safety requirements.
Also export trading companies that are recognized by or with strong and demonstrable linkages, that have a good business track record, already exporting or deemed export-ready through the export readiness assessment will be eligible to participate.
“Exporters with the capacity to address product and production issues promptly, as may be required by the market, interest groups such as PWD, producers groups that are well organized and duly registered to do business are encouraged to participate,” said Lwere.
While launching the project at Golf Course Hotel Kampala, Uganda’s State Minister for Trade, Michael Werikhe said they will as well market and export other products where Uganda have potential to export like cereals, fish and fish products, edible fruits and nuts, meat and edible meat offal, among others.
“However, the major challenge Uganda is still facing is exporting mostly bulky, low value or with minimum value addition, while we import high-value products from Korea,” said Werikhe.
He said Uganda has proposed a number of Strategies to grow trade between Uganda and South Korea like attracting investments to boost production, holding trade fairs in South Korea, preferential treatment for our exports to Korea, capacity building / Development Assistance in Quality Assurance, private Sector to Private Sector engagement and contract farming.
He said that the Government of Uganda strongly wishes to encourage contract farming between South Korean Companies and Ugandan farmers involved in the production of agricultural products such as; Coffee, tea and spices, among others so as to boost quantity and quality of such products.
Werikhe said the Government of Uganda has invested in new power generation plants and by 2020, the Annual National Power Generation Capacity of Electricity will be about 2,600 Megawatts. This expanded power generation capacity will foster industrialization.