IMG-20240119-WA0165

Uganda Expands Trade Horizons, Launches New Hubs and Forges Stronger Ties with Serbia and the Balkans for Enhanced Agricultural Export and Processing

Africa in 2019 just before COVID-19 induced lockdowns exported USD421bn and received USD31b in development assistance and USD40bn in FDI. Uganda lies somewhere small in these figures and it shows you how much exports dwarf aid only if we can focus. This export level is still so small for a group of human beings (Africans) who constitute 17% of the world population. Even worse the concentration of these exports is just simply commodities – minerals, oil and agricultural products that are unprocessed. This is why we keep awake driving export growth for Uganda and we will go anywhere, meet every criticism and work with joy; for we are called in our time to fix some things not to lament.

This is why I thank the partnership we have developed with Serbia and the Balkans to ensure that processing of coffee, handling of fresh fruits and vegetables and other products is done at the entebbe free zones area and make it easier to ship in bulk. The Hon. Ivica Dacic, foreign minister for Serbia and its former PM, came to the free zones to inaugurate the start of the hub at entebbe and called on the free zones authority. I thank Bratislav Stoiljkovic, our trade representative who is opening a third Uganda connect trade hub to make our products known and accessible from Uganda. Mr. Mark Pursey, our Trade Representative in UK will too be opening a hub in London this year as we prepare for the Africa- UK summit.

These efforts make our country come out of woodworks on trade and export matters. We are way behind in how nations compete and are instead locked in shallow peripheral political conflicts instead of focusing on what builds us as a country. PACIED target is 25 trade hubs across the world in the next ten years. This will attract technology and skills, capital investments and develop better supply chains for our products.

In the last decade exports of agricultural products that are of high value have grown only one percentage points yet the continent grows at 3% of GDP and her population at 2.5%! If this doesn’t shock people into reality, what will in terms of what needs to be done to keep Africa stable and growing?

So yesterday we articulated Uganda’s trade policy to the Serbian government delegation as:
1) We will offer tax and infrastructure incentives in return for removal of taxes on Ugandan products into Serbia and the Balkans.
2) We will insist on assembly and manufacturing of agricultural equipment such as coffee machines and processing of juices instead of export raw products to them.
3) We will help with the logistics and supply chain improvements, packaging and packing materials in return for them to process portions of the products here.
4) We will appoint an Honorary consul who will drive trade and not the ones who drink champagne and sell hardware to our country. We will be intentional on growing this trade relationship by signing a new bilateral agreement this year to capture these elements.

Thank you.

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ODREK-SERBIA

PACEID’s interventions are steadily placing Uganda on the global exports map

The Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) has been instrumental in driving the growth of the country’s export revenue. Since its inception, March 16, 2022, its strategic initiatives and effective decision making have helped our nation expand its presence in international markets, leading to a significant increase in export volumes.

The committee is tasked with improving Uganda’s foreign earnings to USD 6BN in the next five years and USD 100BN in 2062 from the prioritized thirteen (13) key products; Coffee, Tea, Fruits & Vegetables, Beef, Dairy, Vanilla, Grains, Sugar, Fish, Banana Flour, Flowers, Tourism, Cement and Steel. 

Under the stewardship of Chairman Odrek Rwabwogo, who doubles as the Special Presidential Advisor-Special Duties (SPA-SD), PACEID advises President Museveni on the strategic and systematic interventions aimed at accelerating exports growth and industrial development for national transformation.

PACEID Chairman Odrek Rwabwogo discusses Uganda’s export with a business expert from UAE

PACEID, which aims to increase the competitiveness of Ugandan products and diversify Uganda’s export base, has enabled Ugandan companies to reach new markets and enhance their visibility on the global exports map.

Business Unusual

Under this module of disrupting the usual style of operation, as a new approach to export markets, PACEID in partnership with various stakeholders has rolled out a succession of trade, investment and tourism summits hosted in various countries within the East African region, rest of Africa and the world to identify off-takers of the 13 priority exports. The committee does not just look for new markets, but rather do it aggressively, intentional with every member mentally invested to ensure that these markets are fulfilled. So far, PACEID has organized close to ten of such trade missions in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where Uganda exported USD 267.19 million worth of goods as of two years ago, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade. South Sudan in July 2022, UK in September 2022, US in December 2022 and South Africa in February 2023 are some of the other markets where PACEID made a strong case for Uganda’s exports and appointed a Trade Representative (TR) in each of those. Some Ugandans might be thinking of this as a waste of money but fact is that these TRs are not paid a single shilling. They are selected for their independent personalities, passion and interest in promoting Uganda’s products and services but most importantly, they believe in the vision Chairman Rwabwogo has for Uganda’s exports and economy in general.

At these summits, exporters and trade experts partake in panel discussions, exhibitions and B2B sessions where participants from the public and private sectors network, share opportunities and identify strategies to position Ugandan products and services internationally and attract potential investors to Uganda. TRs provide technical expertise to help Uganda penetrate new regional and international export markets.

Uganda’s Trade Representatives during a forum at State House-Entebbe in March 2023

Unlike before, PACEID is playing a crucial role in lobbying for favorable trade agreements and policies. By engaging with government bodies and negotiating at international forums, the committee has successfully advocated for reducing trade barriers that have been hindering the free movement of Ugandan products, ultimately providing a conducive environment for our exporters to thrive.

PACEID, together with Uganda’s Trade Representative in Serbia, Mr. Bratislav Stoiljkovic, went a step further at the recent mission and set up a Uganda Trade Hub ‘Uganda Connect’ in Serbian capital Belgrade. The Hub, located in state-of-the-art central neighborhood Belgrade Waterfront, features a Ugandan coffee shop and market place for our fresh fruits and vegetables that Serbians cannot seem to get enough of and is an information centre for many who did not know about Uganda and its great tourist destination sites.

Yes, Serbia might be an emerging market economy in the upper-middle income range but what makes it strategic is that it is a gateway to the eleven countries in the Balkan region (south Eastern Europe) with a combined GDP of 100 Billion Euros. Serbia, because of its weather (mostly winter), consumes coffee worth 1billion Euros thanks to their extensive coffee consumption culture.

Uganda Connect hub in Serbia is the first of similar outlets that will be opened in several export markets to accelerate entry of Uganda’s products in key markets in the region and beyond.

Last month, Mr. Clive Hunter from the UK Trade Representative office was in Uganda for two weeks on a fact-finding mission engaging key public and private stakeholders along the value chain, doing buyer assessment on the different export companies to establish their capacity to supply the key commodities identified by the buyers such as macadamia, cashew nuts, ground nuts, fruits and herbs and their capacity to meet the quality requirements for the UK market, home to some of the world’s largest retailers in the world.

Clive Hunter from UK Trade Representative’s office was in Kampala recently assessing farmers’ capacity to export to the UK

Through PACEID, Uganda has been able to establish itself as a reliable supplier of various commodities such as coffee, tea, and horticulture produce. Through trainings in partnership with United Nations Development Program (UNDP), exporters have been able to improve the quality and standards of Ugandan products, making them more attractive to international buyers. This has in turn, slowly but steadily, boosted the confidence of international buyers in Ugandan products, leading to increased demand and exports.

By providing guidance and support to local industries, PACEID has facilitated the development of export-oriented sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, and services that are enabling Uganda to establish itself as a competitive player in the international market.

The committee works closely with various stakeholders, including government agencies, businesses, and development partners, to identify export opportunities, address barriers, and develop policies that promote trade and industrial growth.

PACEID has also been instrumental in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) into Uganda by encouraging the establishment of export-oriented industries, leading to increased production and exports.

Overall, PACEID’s initiatives and strategies have been vital in putting Uganda on the global export map. The committee’s efforts have helped to enhance Uganda’s export competitiveness, attract investment, and promote market diversification, thereby contributing to the country’s economic growth and development.

“We are creating a new pathway for Uganda’s trade by going on the market from the farm through one shipper into supermarkets of another country. Uganda hasn’t been able to do this in the past because of issues of standards, certifications, quantities and funding. This is a new way and we should not make mistakes because this will cost us jobs and tarnish our country’s image. We are encouraging consortiums or clusters of coffee, dairy, tourism, beef, fruits and vegetables and those who can come together to strengthen supply, quantities and deal with sustainability issues. If we don’t act together, each of these companies is too small to do anything on the market.” says PACEID Chairman Rwabwogo.

One of the key achievements of the committee has been its focus on identifying emerging opportunities and promoting the export of high-value products. Through extensive market research and analysis, the committee has identified niche sectors where our nation has a comparative advantage and encouraged businesses to explore these untapped markets. This strategic approach has not only diversified our export portfolio but also helped us reduce our reliance on traditional sectors.

President yoweri Museveni with Trade Representatives

Chairman Rwabwogo has time and again labored to explain that exports can’t happen unless you have infrastructure because improving infrastructure is crucial for enhancing international trade and boosting economic growth. It is upon this background that PACEID has a strong partner in Uganda Airlines which has done tremendously by opening direct routes to new markets that Uganda is looking to take advantage of. In the past two weeks alone, Jennifer Bamuturaki and her team launched the Entebbe-Mumbai where the national carrier will be flying to India thrice a week, a move that is highly appreciated by exporters. Uganda Airlines also launched the Entebbe-Lagos route which opens doors for Ugandan products into the Nigerian market whose GDP is expected to hit USD 489.80 billion by the end of 2023, according to Trading Economics global macro model and analysts’ expectations.  

For this, PACIED is pleased that its message on developing of export infrastructure, routes, standards/compliance and markets is catching on. Uganda has a wealth of products and talent that deserve global recognition. PACEID is proud to partner with local businesses/private sector to promote Uganda’s exports and unlock new opportunities in international markets.

Let’s showcase the best of Uganda to the world.

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