Africa Continental Free Trade Area is good for Uganda – Hon Amelia Kyambadde.

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A group photo of delegates at the Uganda National Consultative Forum On The Africa Continental Free Trade held today - 31st October, 2019 at Golf Course Hotel, Kampala

Our Reporter.

Hon Amelia Kyambadde, the cabinet minister for Trade, Industries and Cooperatives has noted that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area will come with more benefits for Uganda, East Africa and the entire continent.

Hon Amelia Kyambadde said this during the Uganda National Consultative Forum On The Africa Continental Free Trade held today at Golf Course Hotel, Kampala. The workshop was organized by TradeMark East Africa and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Below is her full speech.

I thank you for inviting me to this important Forum whose deliberations will benefit the public sector; private sector, NGOs, Development Partners and the Academia.  sincere appreciation to UNECA and TMEA for this initiative.

Hon Amelia Kyambadde, the minister of Trade, Industries and Cooperatives speaking at the Uganda National Consultative Forum On The Africa Continental Free Trade at Golf Course Hotel, Kampala.

Regionalism is an agenda of the Government of Uganda and is entrenched in our institutional and Legislative Framework. The 2008 National Trade Policy of Uganda for example prioritizes market integration as key for economic development of Uganda.

The Vision of the National Trade Policy is to transform Uganda into a dynamic and competitive economy in which the trade sector stimulates the productive sectors; and to trade the Country out of poverty, into wealth and prosperity.  To achieve this vision, market integration (Regionalism) becomes key as it will provide market opportunities for trade growth and development, stimulates investments especially, in the form of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as well as local investment which are all drivers for growth and development for any economy.

The National Export Development Strategy (NEDS) prioritizes the African market; and our entry strategy into this market is Regional Integration using the existing Regional Economic Communities as building blocks for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Our discussion of the AfCFTA today is therefore, taking place at the right time and so much in line with the priorities of Government of Uganda.

What the AfCFTA is

The AfCFTA is an agreement that integrates the economies of all the 55 African countries.  Under the AfCFTA members have committed to liberalize trade among parties covering trade in goods and services. The parties to the AfCFTA have a combined GDP of over USD 2.255 trillion, population of over 1.3 billion people, which makes it the largest FTA in the world.

The Agreement entered into force on 30th May and so far 28 Countries (including Uganda) have ratified and deposited their instruments with the African Union.

The institutional mechanism for operationalization of the AfCFTA has already been put in place;

  • The Secretariat will be hosted by Ghana in Accra
  • The Council of Ministers of Trade held its Inaugural Meeting on 25th October, 2019 in Addis Ababa and decided on the establishment of supporting structures namely the Committee on Trade in Goods and the Committee on Trade in Services
  • The Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat and Structure of the Secretariat to be approved by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in February 2020

 Scope of the AfCFTA Agreement

The structure of the agreement is designed in two phases:

  1. Phase I covers Trade in Goods and Trade in Services
  2. Phase II will cover investment, competition and Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights

Africa has many prospects: Mineral beneficiation, Agriculture, Oil & Gas, youths as a Resource, tourism and we must develop them.

Government Strategy on Market Access for Ugandan Goods and Services

  1. Capacity Building for the Private Sector take advantage of these market opportunities;
  2. Provision of the necessary trade infrastructure e.g. affordable electricity, improved road network to ease logistics,
  • Implementation of trade facilitation measures such as Electronic Single Window; Electronic Cargo Tracking; One Stop Border Posts; Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) identification and removal mechanism, Yellow Card Scheme and the Border Export Zones, among others.

Government of Uganda appreciates the support received from key Development Partners such as; TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), European Union (EU), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and others in implementing these measures.

Infrastructure development – internet; roads, rail and air.

Safeguards within the AfCFTA

The Pact provides a mechanism for protection of infant industries as well as sensitive sectors; and measures to deal with any related Balance of Payment challenges. In cases of surges of imports, subsidization, dumping; trade remedies provisions will apply.

Benefits of AfCFTA for Uganda

Market access: We expect the AfCFTA to provide Uganda with meaningful market access especially, in West Africa particularly in the sectors of dairy cereals, coffee, tea, products of the milling industry, vegetables, plastics, and beef among others.

Regional Peace and stability:  It is important to note that regional integration is not only good for trade, but regional peace and stability as well. Economic stability too is key.

Joint infrastructure development: an essential element of boosting the much-needed intra-African connectivity.  Examples include; Oil and Gas pipelines (EAC), Railway network (Cape – Cairo Transcontinental Railway Network and Mombasa – Lagos Railway), road infrastructure, airlines and air inter-connectivity.

Capacity building: To roll out to all Sectors.

Conclusion.

I urge the Private Sector to prepare accordingly with a view of taking full advantage of the opportunities that these market openings provide.  I, will continue having engagements with the Private Sector mainly through their Associations such as; PSFU, UMA, USSIA, KACITA e.t.c. to ensure that we benefit from the AfCFTA.

Government has already launched an Inter-Ministerial Committee chaired by the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Cooperatives to identify our priority export markets and products within the AFCFTA. This Committee working with private sector will address itself to solving the challenges to fully harness the AfCFTA, such as; limited production; inability to meet standards requirements; bureaucratic tendencies by relevant Agencies;  inter-connectivity gaps; mindset change; language barrier; and financial constraints; climate change, Gender insensitivity, Governance issues; Dependency Syndrome; demographic dividend (Youth – 65%); cultural diversity e.t.c.

We will also aggressively continue engaging the electronic & print Media for information about the AfCFTA and the opportunities it creates.

Our Strategy will involve having focused bilateral engagements with other Member States where the trade creation potential of the AfCFTA is high.

As I conclude, I foresee better inter-connectivity amongst the Member States; growth and emergence of more industries; broader scope of organized entrepreneurship development on the Continent; powerful Continental negotiation body as far as Trade Pacts with other Global  Economic Blocs are concerned; and development of  Regional Value chains.

“I see more opportunities in Africa than any other Continent in the next 10 years.” – Dangote

I applaud TMEA and UNECA who undertook the study and have, subsequently organized this important Forum which will give us an insight into addressing some of the pending issues in the negotiations.