Key Note Address by Hon. Amelia Anne Kyambadde at the opening of the Third Trade and Business Facilitation Symposium in Mombasa.

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Hon. Amelia Anne Kyambadde, the Minister of Trade, Industries and Cooperatives is attending the 3rd Trade and Business Facilitation Symposium happening at Pride Inn Hotel, Mombasa.

Below is her keynote address at the event.

  • Consul General, H.E Amb. Katureebe Tayebwa
  • Your Excellencies – the ambassadors present
  • Chairman World Customs Council
  • The Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign affairs
  • Chairman of Uganda Parliamentary Committee on Trade
  • Honorable Members of Parliament present
  • Representatives of Government Ministries and Agencies of Mombasa and Uganda
  • Representative from TradeMark East Africa
  • Distinguished Members of the Business Community of Mombasa
  • Members of the Media Fraternity
  • Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am honored to be invited for the 3rd Trade and Business Facilitation Symposium whose theme is “Enhancing Trade Facilitation along the Northern corridor”. I personally would want to thank Amb. Katureebe whom I worked with for some years in the State House for organizing this Symposium. I am proud to note that the Ambassadors and Trade Captains, some of whom I have mentored and worked closely with are spearheading Trade Facilitation between Uganda and Kenya as well as the Region. They have demystified and improved several trade stations of China, UAE, and others.

The main objective of this symposium is to bring together different stakeholders involved in trade facilitation to discuss and exchange views and provide an opportunity to address existing and emerging the challenges faced in the export and import trade.

The fact that this Symposium is taking place at Mombasa Port, which is the main Port connecting the hinterland to international markets is manifestation of the thrust on enhancing trade with our land locked Country. Since 2015, Transit Traffic cleared through the port has witnessed a growth of 6.5% percent. As of today, Mombasa Port has recorded a container growth 14.3%, of this 75% of the transit traffic is destined for the Ugandan Market; making Uganda the second largest user of the Port after the Republic of Kenya.

Our trade relations with Kenya have increased to about USD 1.5 billion as exports from Uganda to Kenya. It is now USD 77.4 billion from Kenya to Uganda. In the Tourism Industry, it is about USD 1.5 billion with Kenya.

Government of Uganda together with the East African Community and the Northern Corridor Integration Projects have put in place the following initiatives with support from development partners, mainly TradeMark East Africa.

 (a)    E- Single Window. Government is implementing the National Electronic single window which is aimed at facilitating trade through hastening export and import clearances. The following benefits have been realized with its implementation;

  1. There has been reduction of clearance time from 11 days to 5 days
  2. Real time notifications sent to clients at each stage of transaction processing,
  • Reduction in transaction documentation
  1. Reduced time clearance for agencies using the E-Single Window System.

 (b) Implementation of the E-trade Portal. Government of Uganda is implementing the e-trade information portal – a One Stop Portal for export, import and transit information. Already, all the trade facilitating Laws, Regulations and Policies have been uploaded on the system to inform the business community of the requirements of trading in Uganda for better trade and investment decisions.

(c) Border Export Zones (BEZ): Government of Uganda is developing the BEZs with the aim of strategically positioning Uganda in harnessing regional market opportunities at Katuna, Busia, Oraba, Lwakhakha, Elegu, Mutukula among others.  The BEZs have been designed in such a way that they will contain logistics facilities, government and private sector trade facilitating agencies, light processing and warehousing facilities.

(d) Logistics and Growth Hubs. Government is in the process of establishing Logistic and Growth Hubs across the country with the first ones being established in Gulu, Busia and Jinja.  The main purpose of establishing these hubs is to promote job creation and inclusive trade. Already, the designs for Gulu Logistics Hub has been concluded and construction will be resuming before the end of this year while detailed studies for appropriate value chains and designs are being conducted for Jinja and Busia.

(e) Electronic Cargo Tracking System; In 2014, Government of Uganda launched an Electronic Cargo Tracking System(ECTS) that has so far enabled real-time monitoring of goods in transit to curb rampant diversion of goods in transit, a mechanism to establish the location of the transit goods at any time among others. This facility also eliminates the requirement for physical escorting of cargo by security personnel that is very costly and time consuming as trucks would be escorted in convoy. I am happy to inform you that ECTS is being done all the way from Mombasa while monitoring is only done in Kampala.

(f) One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs); Along the Northern Corridor, OSBPs have been so far constructed at Malaba, Busia, Mirama, Katuna and Elegu. Operations of the OSPBs have reduced clearance time across the borders by over 85%, increased inter institutional coordination and cooperation at the borders and promoted integrated border management. For Small Scale Cross Border Traders’ Associations (CBTAs), office space for their operations and special clearance desks have also been provided in Busia, Mutukula and Malaba. The only challenge is man power.

(g) The NTB Reporting System. Government of Uganda developed an NTB Reporting System (*201#) for reporting and coordinating the process of eliminating NTBs. So far over 75% of the NTBs reported are resolved within the System. I am aware that all EAC Partner States have developed NTB Reporting Systems that enable them communicate to each other. My Ministry is in negotiations with other Partner States on harmonization of their NTB Reporting Systems with the Regional Reporting System to ensure quick and immediate resolution of NTBs.

(h) Single Customs Territory (SCT). The Single Customs Territory has been implemented to facilitate faster clearance and improvement in cargo movement along the two Corridors (Northern and Central). Partner States Customs Systems have been interconnected and information sharing has improved. The cost of transporting goods to Uganda has reduced from USD 3,500 to USD 2,000 while the number of days have reduced from about 21 days in 2012 to 4 days as of this year arising out of this initiative. 

(i) Improvement in Standards and Quality Assurance Through strengthening Uganda National Bureau of standards and the rolling out of the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVOC) Program. Government will be establishing mini-labs for testing products in different regions of Uganda and this will reduce the costs and delays of relying on only one Lab at UNBS, and take services within reach of many SMEs.

(j) Infrastructural Development. The Government of Uganda has prioritized infrastructure investment under National Development Plan II and Vision 2040. It is envisaged that infrastructural inter-connectivity in the corridor would lead to reduced cost of production and increased trading opportunities. (i)     Government is, therefore, committed to the development and operationalization of the Standard Gauge Railway aiming at joint modern, fast, reliable, efficient and high capacity regional railway transport system as a seamless single system and as a mechanism to stimulate overall economic development. I appreciate the Republic of Kenya for advancing with the SGR project.

(ii)   Expansion of road networks by investing over US 250 Million Dollars per annum for the past five years to improve marketing and distribution channels.

(iii) Construction of power dams of Karuma and Isimba that will the power tariff from the current 11 cents to a desirable 5 cents per kilo wat.

  • Internet Connections rolled out to rural Communities

I am glad to note that Uganda has posted Customs Officers here at Mombasa to facilitate the Ugandan business community comply with the Single Custom Territory requirements and resolve any issues as soon as they arise.

Why are we here?

In East Africa, logistics bottlenecks and inefficiencies are present at multiple stages in the supply chain including; loading, delivery and warehousing, packaging and waste management. Traffic congestion along key transport corridors, roadblocks and checkpoints push up time and costs of logistics which are passed onto the shippers and eventually borne by the consumers. The results of these inefficiencies are high logistical costs.

In Uganda, logistics inefficiencies in import and export of goods are estimated to cost $827 million (Shs3.1 trillion) each year and logistics costs account for 18-20% of the sale price of goods sold in Uganda (National Logistics Platform).

The Common challenges affecting the business community here in Mombasa are as follows;

  • Scanning of transit cargo
  • Delays in verification of cargo
  • Overstay of cargo at Container Freight Stations by importers
  • Under declaration and misdeclaration by the business community

Other Challenges still affecting trade across EAC countries include;

  • NTBs
  • Enforcement of Policies
  • Absence of synergies within MDAs.
  • Absence of sufficient information on trade and services
  • Undefined taxes
  • PVoC challenges
  • Absence of SMEs database
  • Cost of Finance

Conclusion

Government of Uganda remains committed to the EAC Regional Integration processes and putting in place measures to facilitate trade. I encourage the business community to always conduct legitimate businesses in line with the rules and regulations to avoid under and miss declaration.

I do applaud the Consul General, H.E Amb. Katureebe for organizing this event which am sure will go a long way in not only creating the necessary awareness of the trade facilitation measures in place along the Northern Corridor and increasing the presence of Ugandan goods in the regional markets, but also create a conducive business environment for the business persons along the Northern Corridor especially at Mombasa Port.

I thank the Republic of Kenya for hosting this 3rd Trade and Business facilitation symposium. I thank TradeMark East Africa for funding all these Trade Facilitation initiatives.

It is my hope that the Legislators present at this symposium will support us in this Trade Facilitation journey that we have undertaken. We need them for policy enactment and enforcement advocacy. I call upon all MDAs and private sector stakeholders to strengthen synergies because we need everyone on board.

I urge the business community to always take advantage of the offices of H.E the Consul General and other Government Agencies like the Customs whenever they get challenges in day to day operations.

I thank you!