Plans to launch the UK-Uganda Businesses Forum Underway

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Our Reporter.

Lord Dolar Popat of Harrow, the United Kingdom Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Uganda has confirmed that plans to roll-out the UK-Uganda business forum are underway with this project expected to materialize as early as 2020.

The move if implemented will offer an open platform for Uganda and UK businesses to directly engage each other and their respective governments on matters that affect trade and general doing of business environment.

Lord Dolar made this revelation on Wednesday 19th June during a high level meeting organized by TradeMark East Africa and attended by key trade facilitators including; Hon Amelia Kyambadde – the Cabinet Minister for Trade, Industries and Cooperatives, H.E Peter West – UK High Commissioner in Uganda, Richard Kamajugo – TradeMark East Africa Chief Operations Officer, Dicksons Collins Kateshumbwa – URA Commission Customs, Adrian Green – Head of Growth and Economic Management at UKAid , Gideon Badagawa – Private Sector Foundation Uganda Executive Director, Moses Sabiiti – TradeMark East Africa Country Director for Uganda and South Sudan and Merian Sebunya – the National Logistics Platform Chairperson.

“Currently exports of goods to the UK account for just £2m a year and the aim is to double that, we want to sustain an increase year on year of exports going to the UK – because it makes business sense. Plus, over 95 per cent of Ugandans in the UK would want to come back and invest here. UK is committed to make this happen,” Lord Dolar Popat noted.

Lord Popat used the same meeting to congratulate TradeMark EA Uganda Office, Ministry of Trade, URA and other partners for the great trade facilitation work done. He noted that projects such as the one stop border posts in Busia, Mutukula, Malaba and Elegu are playing critical roles in trade facilitation.

“By bringing UK companies to Uganda, I wish to boost trade and investment between our two countries. Regional markets are very convenient, and it is becoming easier to trade across borders – thanks to initiatives like TradeMark East Africa for which the UK funds 70%. I was in Busia and saw how the Busia One Stop Border Post is facilitating easier and faster trade. I will be in Malaba very soon to see the progress there,” Lord Dolar Popat noted.

This high-level meeting came at the back of another UK Businesses operating in Uganda gathering hosted by TradeMark East Africa on Monday 17th June and attended by over 50 business representatives. During the first meeting, representatives of UK businesses operating in Uganda highlighted a number of challenges that needed immediate attention.

As summarized by Moses Sabiiti – TradeMark Uganda Country Director, the challenges presented by the UK Businesses operating in Uganda were; Non-Tarrif Barriers faced by Ugandan tour operators in Kenya and Tanzania, Poor Standards and Counterfeit Products, Poor infrastructure on Lake Victoria , Delayed Tea Auction process at the Mombasa port, Slow uptake of the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) scheme by UK businesses and Limited engagement between UK businesses and government of Uganda.

“In order to ensure that there is more engagement between UK businesses operating in Uganda and the government of Uganda, there will be bi-annual engagements coordinated by TradeMark Uganda office, and Ministry of Trade,” Sabiiti noted before referring the rest of the raised issues to the Ministry of Trade.

Responding to the aforementioned challenges, Hon Kyambadde noted that her ministry on behalf of the government of Uganda is fully committed to improving Uganda’s business environment. This she further stressed is supported by healthy partnerships with development partners such as TradeMark, DFID, UKAid, European Union and World Bank.

“Uganda has put in place many initiatives to ease doing business. These have resulted in to faster registration of businesses, digitization of business registration records, establishment of one stop border posts, elimination of non-tarrif barriers, border export zones and promotion of automated economic operators. The ministry of Trade has also continued to create an enabling business environment that enhances private sector investments and growth. Some of the policies implemented include the national export development strategy, Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU), National Cooperatives Policy and the Grains Trade Policy among others,” Hon Kyambadde noted.

She added: “With all this work already done, and much more underway, the government of Uganda is confident that more investors from the United Kingdom will come to Uganda to enhance production and value addition. This will boost export capacities of the various sectors to further consolidate our bilateral economic ties.”

In all; both these two meetings provided a forum for open discussion on seminal issues affecting trade in Uganda, the East African region and consider emerging issues related to the African Continental Free Trade Area.