Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Museveni has emphasized that the free movement of goods and services is a matter of survival for Uganda, East Africa and Africa.
“Supporting one another’s prosperity by buying one another’s goods and services is the correct way. With our united market, we can, then, approach third parties such as the USA, China, India…. for additional market access to their markets, just like they have been selling in our markets for centuries,” he said as he made final remarks at the Africa Now 2019 Summit in Kampala on Wednesday.
Museveni said that once East African leaders deal with freedom of movement of goods and services, remove the tariff and non-tariff barriers, they will remain with just two barriers to deal with. These, he said, are the free movement of people and dealing with the transport bottlenecks – the roads, the railways, the water-ways, the airlines, the internet backbone.
To show his commitment to free trade, he said that he rejected calls by politicians in the 80s to bar Kenyan goods flooding the Ugandan market. ”
“In 1986, Kenya was exporting to Uganda goods worth US$200million. Uganda was only exporting to Kenya goods worth US$12million. Some of the Ugandan leaders started talking of blocking Kenyan goods. I rejected that line because it is suicidal for Africa,” he said.
He said, nations opening up was key to social-economic transformation. He gave China as one country that starting growing rapidly after they opened up, started trading with the world and started getting investments from the world.
“The GDP of China in 1978 was US$ 149.54 billion. It is now US$12.24trillion. That of India in 1991 when they opened up was US$278.4billion. It is now US$2,848 trillion.”
This week’s Africa Now Summit 2019 at the Commonwealth Hotel in Munyonyo is set to create a space where Africans can direct the conversation about the continent’s past, status quo and its future through mainstream platforms.
The two-day conference is organized by the Africa Strategic Leadership Centre and aims to harness the interminable energy of the African youth in forging a secure, integrated and growing Africa.