Kampala — The European Union has allocated €53 million (Shs202.9 billion) towards easing trade transaction in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African (Comesa) bloc where Uganda is a member.
The money is part of the 11th European Development Fund's €85 million (Shs325.5 billion) support for Comesa regional integration programmes.
Comesa Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya at a recent regional meeting of member states held in Lusaka Zambia, to validate the identified projects, said:
"The overarching goal of the trade facilitation programme is to make trade transactions easier, quicker, more efficient and less costly, thereby enhancing trade flows in the identified transport corridors."
The funding expected to increase intra-regional trade flows of goods, persons and services by reducing the costs/delays of imports/exports at specific border posts.
Mr Ngwenya stressed the need to address the high cost of transporting goods in the region.
He said: "This will enhance the competitiveness of firms in the region especially Small and Medium Enterprises."
Mr Ngwenya said Comesa is preparing to publish its own Ease of Doing Business Report and Competitiveness Report in the near future in line with its guiding principles of "learning, knowledge and an innovative organisation."
The project is in line with the Comesa Transport policy which provides a framework for the development of national policies which enhance the regional agenda.
It aims at providing for seamless regional physical connectivity and the smooth facilitation in the provision of transport services that are not impended by regulatory, licensing, administrative and operational bottlenecks to cross border and transit transport services.
Burundi, Comoros, Congo DR, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe are some of the beneficiaries of this fund.
Activities under the trade facilitating programme will include; monitoring and resolution of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs); implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement; coordinated border management and trade as well as transport facilitation along selected corridors and border posts, among others.