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Minister challenges manufacturers to work on quality that meets international standards

The UMA  trade fair has run this week in Kampala

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The State Minister for Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives, Harriet Ntabaazi, has urged Ugandan manufacturers to enhance the quality of their products to meet international standards. She emphasized that this is crucial for positioning Uganda as a significant player in the global market, ultimately promoting economic growth.

Ntabaazi made these compelling remarks during the closure of the 29th annual Uganda Manufacturers’ Association (UMA) exhibition and trade fair held in Lugogo. This year’s event witnessed an impressive turnout, with a total of 1,018 exhibitors, of which 898 were local manufacturers.

The minister informed the manufacturers about the government’s successful negotiations with several international markets. She stressed that the missing link in these negotiations is the supply of high-quality products from Ugandan manufacturers. Quality, she asserted, is the primary factor for the success of these supplies.

“In the global marketplace, quality is our passport. We have already laid the groundwork for international trade, but the quality of our products must match our aspirations,” she stated. According to her, the East African Community (EAC) represents a substantial opportunity for manufacturers to thrive. She noted that the regional market is vast and should serve as a platform for promoting high-quality local products.

“While we acknowledge the challenges in the East African community, it is an essential avenue for expanding your business. The EAC is here to facilitate your access to a broader market. Let us not jeopardize these opportunities by producing subpar goods that lack international appeal,” Ntabaazi asserted. In addition to quality, she emphasized the importance of quantity to meet the demands of local, regional, and international markets.

A shortage in supply, she noted, can hinder trade processes and potentially undermine the nation’s economic development goals. “Sufficient supply is also critical to maintain our position in the market. For instance, the current sugar scarcity highlights the need for our manufacturers to increase production.” To ensure the quality of agricultural products, especially cereals, within the region, the minister unveiled the government’s latest initiative: an export quality assurance center in Matugga.

This facility will rigorously inspect and verify the quality of products before export. Deo Kayemba, Chairperson of the UMA Board of Directors, added his perspective on trade barriers within the EAC. He voiced concern over the challenges posed by domestic taxes, levies, and non-tariff barriers imposed by some EAC partner states.

“These barriers weaken the region’s economic performance and hamper the spirit of cooperation the community aspired to achieve. Despite efforts to streamline trade among EAC countries, some members have not acted in accordance with the protocol. These unfavorable trade barriers harm not only the manufacturing industry but also the cooperative spirit the EAC was meant to embody,” Kayemba lamented.

Recent data from the Ministry of Finance reveals that in June, Uganda imported goods worth USD 898.0 million and exported products worth USD 650.57 million, resulting in a trade deficit of USD 247.43 million. This call for improved product quality, quantity, and adherence to international standards signifies a significant step forward for Ugandan manufacturers as they work to secure their place in the international market and drive economic growth.

However, challenges in the regional market remain, calling for further cooperation and resolution of trade barriers to fulfill the EAC’s potential.

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