It has often been said that “Information is power”. In 2015, when Tashobya, a trader from western Uganda wanted to export his eggs to Comoros, nobody warned him that he might have to visit more than four institutions seeking both information and licenses. Eggs already in a warehouse, he made phone call after phone call, paid one agent after another and still was met with frustration. If only he had had a convenient source he could access to learn what he needed to do.
A few years later, a trade information portal was built and traders like Tashobya and others could have all their questions answered.
The trade information portal is Uganda’s one stop shop for information on trade related businesses. The portal gives access to step-by-step procedures from user point of view guiding traders on licenses, pre-clearance permits and clearance formalities issued by government agencies.
The development of the portal is premised on the Trade Facilitation Agreement which came into force on 22 February 2017 where two thirds of World Trade Organisation (WTO) members ratified the agreement, Uganda inclusive. The east African member states of Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania have developed similar platforms to enhance trade in the region.
Many businessmen in the import sector have had to pay a surcharge to Uganda National Bureau of Standards because they did not know the need to and later on how to obtain a Pre Verification of Conformity certificate (PVoC). The lack of information can be costly.
The platform will play a critical role in informing the traders on how the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit is done. Promotion of transparency in customs regulations and administration, promotion of cooperation among agencies dealing with clearance of goods, promotion of electronic systems in documentation and clearance of goods and Streamlining of fees and knowledge of charges and taxes is what the trade portal aims to achieve.
Developed and implemented by the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC), in partnership with East African Community (EAC), Trade Mark East Africa, USAID, United Nations (UN) and International Trade Centre, the platform is facilitating trade by enabling the traders to access all the information regarding the documentation, procedures, fees, and charges that are needed before the traders go into the clearing Process.
The Portal enables traders to access and obtain trade related information on a single platform and this will significantly reduce the time and cost of accessing information in the business community.
It will enhance Uganda’s export, first to the regional markets, where over 60% of the country’s exports go and facilitate the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises who constitute over 70% of Uganda’s exporters to trade easier. Visit the portal; https://ugandatrades.go.ug/
Marketing support provided by the MARKUP programme, a regional development initiative for the EAC funded by the EU.