Trade Information Portal to further improve the ease of doing business in Uganda, notes TradeMark Country Director.

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Ms Damali Ssali, the Ag. Country Director TradeMark East Africa, Uganda gives her remarks at the launch of the Trade Information Portal.

Our Reporter.

Ms Damali Ssali, the Ag. Country Director TradeMark East Africa, Uganda believes that the recently launched Trade Information Portal will further improve the ease of doing business in Uganda through making information about Uganda’s exports, imports and goods in transit readily available for traders and consumers alike.

“The most recent World Bank Doing Business Report indicated that Uganda had declined from 115 in 2017 to 122 in 2018.  We expect that the launch and operationalisation of the Trade Information Portal will contribute to Uganda’s improvements in the Word Bank ranking on ease of doing business in 2019,” Ms Ssali noted at the launch of the trade information portal.

“The Uganda Trade Information Portal is a trade facilitation platform providing access to fully transparent practical step-by-step guides to the licenses, pre-clearance permits and clearance formalities for the most traded goods in and out of Uganda: at each step, the trade portal tells the user where to go, who to see, what documents to bring, what forms to fill, what costs to pay, what law justifies the step and where to complain to in case of a problem.

Group photo of Trade stakeholders that attended the launch of the trade information portal.

Below is her full speech from this event.

It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to address this very important gathering which is going to witness the launch of the Uganda’s Trade Information Portal.

We acknowledge and hugely appreciate that TMEA is funded by Governments of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the EU, Finland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

I am happy to note that TradeMark East Africa was created by the UK Government and that the UK is the biggest funder of TradeMark East Africa across the region.

I would also like to acknowledge the presence of the US-AID representative, Ms Sheila Desai, and convey our appreciation for the support provided to Trademark East Africa and Uganda to implement the Trade Information Portal that we are launching today.

Hon. Minister, as a Ugandan I am very proud of the achievements of your ministry.

Key among these are:

  1. The ratification of the Continental Free Trade Area which is going to facilitate us as Africans to trade more with each other.

At the recent trade sector review, Hon. Minister, you presented data that indicated that since 2013 Uganda has been recording a net trade surplus with its neighbours in the East African Community.

For the year 2017/18 the net trade surplus with the community amounted to over USD400million.

This strongly demonstrates that Uganda has a comparative advantage on cross border trade and the ratification of the Continental Free Trade Area will further facilitate us to trade with the rest of Africa.

  1. Again, at recent trade sector review, the ministry launched the Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises strategy; it is estimated that this sector alone employs over 3.5million Ugandans.

Hon. Minister we hope to work with the ministry on some of the implementation aspects of this strategy.

  1. The ministry ratified the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement. This launch of the Uganda Trade Information Portal today demonstrates the ministry’s commitment to implementing this agreement.

 

  1. I congratulate the ministry on the recent winning of the Digital Impact Awards for the implementation of the Non-Tariff Barrier Reporting System. This system can can be accessed by dialling *201#.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, over 82% of NTBs reported through this system have been resolved. This system has also been internationally recognised and was showcased at the WTO in Geneva last month as an innovative and inclusive tool to solve NTBs.

 

  1. Over the last 2 years, the ministry has implemented the Uganda Electronic Single Window, which to date has over ten trade agencies transacting on it.

Some of these agencies transacting on the Uganda Electronic Single Window include: Uganda Revenue Authority, Uganda National Bureau of Standards, National Drugs Authority, and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, and the Uganda Coffee Development Authority, among others.

Group photo of Trade stakeholders that attended the launch of the trade information portal.

The next phase will be to interface the electronic single window, which is transactional, with the trade information portal so that a trader, importer or exporter, can seamlessly interact and transact with both systems.

  1. The ministry has championed the construction and operationalisation of the One Stop Border Posts at Mirama Hills the border with Rwanda, at Mutukula the border with Tanzania, at Busia the border with Kenya and at Elegu the border with South Sudan, which I believe has also contributed to improving Uganda’s trade balance on cross border trade.

Hon, Minister, certainly this list is not exhaustive, but I hope it does sample and demonstrate the work the you and your team have delivered.

Today, the launch of this Trade Information Portal is expected to further improve the ease of doing business in Uganda.

The most recent World Bank Doing Business Report indicated that Uganda had declined from 115 in 2017 to 122 in 2018.  We expect that the launch and operationalisation of the Trade Information Portal will contribute to Uganda’s improvements in the Word Bank ranking on ease of doing business in 2019.

I would thank my colleagues:

  • Moses Sabiiti who wanted to be here today and he sends his regards,
  • Eugene Torero from our HQ in Nairobi who is our Director for Trade Policy and provides strategic guidance to policy matters,
  • Erick Sirali from our HQ in Nairobi, who has been the key liaison between the ministry and TradeMark on this project,
  • Kartan from UNCTAD who has provided technical assistance and last but certainly not least,
  • Sandra Kirenga Serwano who manages and is in charge for our trade portfolio at the TradeMark Uganda Country Programme.

I would also like to acknowledge some of the ministry team that has worked tirelessly, with us behind the scenes to get us here like Richard Okot, Josephine Karara and Mary Amumpire, Commissioner Silver Ojakol and Emmanuel Atwine.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for listening to me.