The Independent (Kampala)

Uganda: NRM Is Implementing Its 2011 Election Manifesto Says Kyambadde

The Minister for trade and industry says government, under the National Trade Policy, the National Development Plan and 2011 National Resistance Movement Election Manifesto, has prioritized regional integration and enhancing market access for Ugandan goods and services.

She says government has continued to examine very closely the policy environment in which trading, especially with the region is taking place. "Following this examination, Government has moved steadfastly to improving the trading environment by addressing both endogenous and exogenous factors."

Kyambadde while addressing a press on Thursday said the endogenous factors such as improvement of transport infrastructure increase in energy generation, among others, are well known to us. On the exogenous front, we established that the major impediment to Uganda's deeper penetration of the regional market was her non-membership of the COMESA Free Trade Area.

She added that, "By remaining outside of the COMESA Free Trade Area, our exports to our main export market were being subjected to taxes on importation into those countries. This made our products less price competitive, which certainly impaired us from fully exploiting the benefits of regional integration."

Accordingly, therefore, she says "Government has decided that Uganda joins the COMESA Free Trade Area."

The COMESA has nineteen Member States, of which fourteen (14) {Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe}, are members of the COMESA Free Trade Area that was launched in 2000.

The COMESA has a population of approximately 467.6 million as of July 2011 and a combined GDP of US$799.2 billion as of 2010, and is Uganda's main export market. Over the last five years, the COMESA has on average provided a market for 57% of the value of Uganda's exports annually, earning the country an average of US$ 1.3billion in export revenues per annum.

The minister says the decision taken by Uganda to join the COMESA Free Trade Area, therefore, consolidates and improves Uganda's access to this lucrative market. The decision, which means that Uganda's exports to the Free Trade Area Member Countries will not be subjected to import taxes by the importing countries, is projected to increase the country's exports to COMESA by 50%.

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