Uganda achieves Shs208 billion trade surplus with DRC

Uganda has achieved a trade surplus with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) amounting to $53.07 million (Shs208.9 billion), as disclosed by Ugandan Ambassador Alhaji Farid Mansoor Kallisa, Head of Mission in Kinshasa.

Uganda's exports to the DRC include cereals, vegetable oil, refined petroleum oil, and salt, among other goods.

This information was revealed at the Ring States Joint Regional Economic & Commercial Diplomacy Retreat at the Serena Hotel, Kigo.

Ambassador Kallisa noted that the surplus, facilitated by recent security improvements due to UPDF operations, underscores Uganda's dominant position in bilateral trade.

Uganda's exports to the DRC include cereals, vegetable oil, refined petroleum oil, and salt, among other goods.

This surplus also indicates the potential for further trade growth between the two countries, presenting opportunities for Ugandan businesses to expand their market presence in the DRC.

Ambassador Kallisa emphasized that the Uganda Mission in Kinshasa aims to build on this success through strategic engagement and trade promotion initiatives.

This data is corroborated by the Ministry of Finance Performance of the Economy report, which shows that the DRC receives more exports from Uganda than any other East African Community (EAC) member state.

Additionally, Ambassador Ronnie Balya, Head of the Ugandan Mission in Juba, reported a $41.68 million (Ush164 billion) trade surplus in favour of Kampala between Uganda and South Sudan, following the normalization of security in South Sudan after the 2018 Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict.

Ambassador Balya stressed the importance of joint ventures in various sectors such as industry, agriculture, ICT, health, education, banking, real estate, hospitality, tourism, and infrastructure development.

Trade between Uganda and South Sudan has grown significantly, with Uganda's exports increasing from $225.28 million in 2015/16 to $546.43 million in 2021/22, and South Sudan's exports to Uganda rising from $4.83 million to $15.59 million during the same period.

Ambassador Balya encouraged Ugandans to seize the opportunity to expand trade and investment in South Sudan.

However, challenges like non-tariff barriers, tariff barriers, and infrastructure limitations persist.

The Uganda Embassy in Juba is working to address these issues through mechanisms for product verification and tax relief on imports.

The upcoming Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) meeting is expected to address these concerns.

In Rwanda, Uganda's High Commissioner, Gen (Rtd) Robert Rusoke, reported significant growth in exports, increasing from Shs400m in 2020 to Shs110.7bn in 2023, while Rwanda's exports to Uganda also increased from Shs36bn to Shs45.1bn.

Key Ugandan exports include pineapples, Irish potatoes, mangoes, and sorghum, whereas Rwanda exports sugar, cement, and maize flour.

Following the restoration of relations, Uganda and Rwanda signed an MOU in January 2022 to hold regular ministerial consultations every six months to resolve issues and promote bilateral relations.

The revival of the JPC in March 2023 has further enhanced economic engagement.

Uganda's High Commissioner to Tanzania, Col. (Rtd.) Fred Mwesigye, highlighted a 16.7% annual increase in trade between Uganda and Tanzania over the past 27 years.

Key Ugandan exports to Tanzania include minerals, coffee, and agricultural produce, while Tanzania's main exports to Uganda include rice, gold, and cereals.

Despite progress, challenges like non-tariff barriers, infrastructure limitations, and social and cultural issues remain.

The two countries are addressing these challenges through continuous engagement under the JPC framework, regional integration promotion, and trade missions.

The Uganda Embassy in Mogadishu reported significant trade and remittance flows between Uganda and Somalia, with Ugandans in Somalia remitting between $50,000 to $60,000 daily.

The Embassy encourages Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and negotiates with money transfer services to reduce transaction costs.

Over 25 private security companies in Somalia employ 2,500-3,000 Ugandans. The Embassy promotes Ugandan coffee and explores economic and commercial diplomacy opportunities.

Evans Aryabaha, Charge d'Affaires at the Uganda High Commission in Nairobi, highlighted efforts to increase exports to Kenya, with tea, milk, and corn being the top exports.

Despite facing tariff and non-tariff barriers, the Mission promotes economic and commercial diplomacy through trade and tourism events, benchmarking tours, and joint verification missions.

The Mission's success includes a tripartite agreement on petroleum imports and refurbishing Uganda House in Nairobi, enhancing non-tax revenue.

Ambassador Elly Kafeero Kamahungye, Acting Director of Regional and International Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emphasized the importance of economic and commercial diplomacy (ECD) in achieving Uganda's development goals.

He highlighted the role of MOFA and its missions abroad in promoting Uganda's interests, attracting foreign direct investment, and increasing exports.

The retreat provided a platform for commercial diplomats to share experiences, best practices, and challenges in promoting ECD. Topics included market access, compliance with market standards, and leveraging regional integration to promote trade and investment.

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