Kampala, Uganda | GODFREY SSALI | The US Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac has cautioned Uganda on the bureaucracies and red tape in investment procedures saying they discourage many potential investors.
Malac said this during a meeting with the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde to discuss trade relations between USA and Uganda on Tuesday 6th March 2018 at the Ministry of trade offices.
Malac revealed that many American investors have approached the embassy complaining and frustrated due to the corruption and government bureaucracy that makes the investment processes in Uganda longer than necessary.
She urged Uganda to make investment processes/steps clear and transparent so that it is easier to attract US investments and for the US embassy to market Uganda among Americans.
“We would like to invite as many investors to Uganda as possible but there are so many middlemen and third parties in Uganda’s investment procedures who operate outside the system and these have frustrated many potential investors forcing them to leave Uganda and go elsewhere”, exclaimed Malac.
She said most of the investment processes published is not followed and what investors find on the ground is totally different.
Malac urged the government of Uganda to be more aggressive in creating awareness about the country saying a lot needs to be dome to market Uganda and showcase what the country has to offer.
“Many tourists end up in Kenya and Tanzania because they do not know so much about Uganda yet the country has a lot to offer”, said Malac
In response Minister Kyambadde told Malac that the battle against corruption has been a complicated one as some of the victims who have been made to pay bribes are not willing to testify and give the relevant information.
Kyambadde acknowledged the need for transparency in the investment processes and said government is working towards harmonizing the procedures in all the government agencies in charge of investment.
On promoting Uganda, Kyambadde said government is working towards strengthening the embassies and foreign missions to create more awareness and market the country. She says these missions are equipped with enough information about Uganda.
Malac said the US embassy is committed to strengthening the trade relations with Uganda but Uganda also needs to play her part. She informed the Minister that the US Embassy has organized a mission for 20 Ugandan coffee producers to Seattle, USA in April 2018. The mission is meant to introduce coffee producers to buyers in the USA.
“Uganda produces a lot of coffee but it does not reach the USA. Through this mission, we will introduce the Ugandan coffee producers to the potential coffee buyers and also enable them to understand the market requirements”, explained Malac.
The two also discussed the progress made in the implementation of the AGOA programme. There has been tension between Uganda and USA over the declaration made by the EAC Heads of State to ban the importation of second hand clothes which the USA says is in contravention of the AGOA Act and is going to render their people jobless. The two agreed to put behind the fight against second hand clothes and focus on identifying other opportunities where the two countries can collaborate.
Kyambadde asked Malac to attract investments in Uganda’s textile sector saying there’s a lot of potential.
Trade between Uganda and USA has not been the best in the past years despite the AGOA opportunity. Uganda’s total exports to the USA are valued at only $40 million are the biggest percentage of these is coffee, tea and spices. Uganda also exports some fish but in small quantities.
Uganda’s imports from USA are valued at $76.8 million and these are mainly pharmaceutical products and machinery and mechanical appliances.