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Exporters push for tough measures against trade barriers from EAC states

Kakira Sugar

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  Manufacturers have asked the Government to institute tough measures against EAC states that continue to block imports from Uganda.

Under their umbrella body, Uganda Manufacturers Association- UMA, they note that the continued blockade of Ugandan goods from entering the Kenyan market is a violation of the EAC common market protocol.

The Executive Director UMA Daniel Birungi said there is a need to create a level playing field of manufacturers across the region to have a true common market and real integration.

He says that manufacturing cannot be a core sector for the development of Uganda as spelt out in the NDP III without providing an adequate market for products that Uganda has demonstrated competitiveness.

Birungi has outlined countless harassment and trade barriers instituted by Kenya and these include baseless claims about the quality of Ugandan goods as well as their origin even if they have undoubtedly originated from Uganda.

He also accuses Kenya of arbitrary permits even though they are not allowed under the EAC protocol.

Sectors that have faced challenges under the blockade are the Sugar and Dairy sector as well as the LPG sector including others.

He says Uganda has recently demonstrated growth in its export capacity to Kenya from $159m in 2017 to $190m in 2019, however, these figures have dropped drastically in that Ugandan exporters are projecting to make only $73m from Kenyan exporters in 2020.

Birungi believes that Kenya has decided to block Ugandan products because of the threat Uganda’s growth poses to the economy of Kenya.

Birungi says even Tanzania is imposing similar barriers on Ugandan products.

Uganda issued a protest note at the start of this year stating that there would be action if Kenya did not move to address this situation, however, the manufacturers are lamenting that 11 months down the road nothing has been done.

According to Birungi manufacturers are calling on the government to push for equity for the Ugandan manufacturer at the regional level, they are demanding for the government to change its tactics and institute measures against those states that have proved stubborn.

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