Exporters Call For Strong Action Against EAC States’ Trade Barriers

Manufacturers have called on the government to impose tough measures against EAC states which continue to block imports from Uganda.

Under their tutelage, the Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA), they note that the continued blockade of Ugandan merchandise on the Kenyan market is a violation of the EAC Common Market Protocol.

UMA Executive Director Daniel Birungi said it is necessary to create a level playing field for all manufacturers in the region in order to have a true common market and genuine integration.

He said that the manufacturing sector cannot be a basic sector for Uganda’s development, as outlined in NDP III, without providing an adequate market for the products that Uganda has demonstrated its competitiveness.

Birungi highlighted countless harassment and trade barriers put in place by Kenya, including baseless allegations about the quality of Ugandan goods and their origin, even though they undoubtedly originate from Uganda.

Birungi further accused Kenya of ‘arbitrary permits’ even if they are not authorised by the EAC protocol.

The sectors that have faced challenges in the context of the blockade are the sugar and milk sector as well as the GPL sector, including others.

According to him, Uganda has recently demonstrated growth in its export capacity to Kenya, from USD 159 million in 2017 to USD 190 million in 2019. According to Birungi, Kenya has decided to block Ugandan products as a result of the threat to Kenya’s economy posed by Uganda’s growth.

Birungi said 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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