Uganda exports beat imports from Kenya. Something needs to be done to sustain this!

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Editorial.

From January to end of May 2018, Uganda exported more goods to Kenya, than it imported. This was the first time this has happened since the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) started making trade figures public.

As reported by both Business Daily Africa and Daily Monitor, “Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) put the value of goods Uganda exported at Shs1.1 trillion (Ksh30.21b) in the period to May compared with imports of Shs965b (Ksh26.08b), resulting in a ‘trade surplus for Uganda’, deficit for Kenya of about Shs153b (Ksh4.13b).”

As shared by President Yoweri Museveni; in January, Uganda’s exports to Kenya fetched USD 186m while Uganda paid Kenya USD 96 million for imports. In February, the figures were USD 149m for Uganda Exports and USD 121m for Imports from Kenya. March saw Kenya improve with Uganda getting paid USD 115m while it paid Kenya USD 132m. Then came the month of April and Uganda got USD 131m from exports to Kenya, compared to USD 92m it paid for imports from Kenya. Lastly, in May, Uganda received a cool USD 228m for its exports to Kenya while Kenya got paid USD 132million for its exports to Uganda.

The surge in the Uganda trade receipts came at the back of impressive maize harvests in Uganda versus the lukewarm harvests for the same crop experienced in Kenya. Maize flour ( Ugali) is the most consumed food across Kenya.

That Uganda exported more to Kenya than it imported from there means that our economy is closing both balance of trade and balance of payment deficits.

To a common man, this development means that Ugandan traders and farmers are earning a little more from their trade with Kenya than their Kenyan counterparts.

Infrastructure-wise, a lot has been done and more is being implemented to improve the Uganda-Kenya trade. With support mainly from TradeMark East Africa, and United Kingdom Department for Foreign Investment (DFID); one stop border posts have been built at Busia and Malaba, access roads improved and non-intrusive cargo scanners installed. Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking Systems (RECTs) have been implemented and several Non-Trade Barriers (NTBs) eliminated among other accomplishments. All these are facilitating trade between the two countries.

But have the farmers and traders been either empowered or supported to produce more? Are they able to access cheaper credit to expand their businesses? What is being done to guard them against dishonesty middlemen that buy cheaply and resale expensively?

What policy has been put in place to ensure that Uganda continues to earn more from her trade with Kenya?