Kampala — Uganda has been commended for prioritizing infrastructure development especially energy and the road network which is a recipe for boosting regional trade.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Council of Ministers meeting opened by Vice President of Zambia Inonge Wina in Lusaka at the weekend unanimously commended Uganda for the progress made in fulfilling the objectives of the regional trade body.
They hailed the country's infrastructure development that has taken place in the past two years especially energy and the road network.
The meeting observed that Uganda has made progress in the Domestication of the COMESA Treaty. In 2016, Uganda passed the COMESA Treaty Implementation Act. The COMESA Treaty Implementation Act (2017) gives the force of law to the Treaty Establishing the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa in Uganda.
Uganda has also taken steps to implement the COMESA Customs Union instruments. Uganda has implemented 100% of the alignment to the Customs Management Regulations, 74% alignment to Customs Tariff Nomenclature and 74% alignment to Common External Tariff.
However, with all the progress that Uganda has made in COMESA, as far as annual contributions to COMESA are concerned; Uganda was one of the countries that had been irregular in its payments.
in 2015, Uganda's export earnings from the COMESA region were registered at $1,263 million representing 48 per cent of Uganda's total exports. This trend has been in favor of Uganda over the past five years.
Kyambadde explains Uganda's situation
The Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde who represents Uganda on the COMESA Council of Ministers justified the lapse in annual contributions as premised on factors like the severe drought in the past year, the security situation in South Sudan in the last two years and electioneering period in the region that negatively impacted the economy thus leading to a decline in export performance and revenue collection.
She however reaffirmed that Uganda is now recovering from the challenges and it will soon regularize its subscriptions to COMESA. The Council took cognizance of Uganda's situation.
Kyambadde reaffirmed Uganda's commitment to the regional arrangement indicating that Uganda is currently, benefiting from two major projects; support to SMES on value addition to leather; textiles, development of border export zones under the RIIP Project, agricultural development and gender mainstreaming.
During the meeting, the ministers observed that COMESA region's growth registered a slight decrease to 5.0% in 2016 from 6.0% in 2015.
This trend was attributed to a number of factors including weak global economic conditions, adverse weather conditions characterized by droughts and floods. Nonetheless the region remained one of the fastest growing region globally.
The Council of Ministers from the 19 member states committed to upholding their commitments to strengthen the regional bloc following the opportunities accrued to the business community in form of a larger market and the advantages of trading in a more liberalized environment.
Further support was pledged to the implementation of COMESA programs which continue to be guided by the Treaty, the Medium Term Strategic Plan, Council and Summit decisions.
These provide a road map for deepening integration through the consolidation of the Free Trade Area, development of infrastructure, development of agriculture and industry, climate change adaptation and mitigation, gender mainstreaming and establishment of the Customs Union among others.
The meetings of the COMESA Policy Organs commenced on October 26 with the meeting of the committee on budgetary and administrative matters and ended on November 4, 2017 with the Council of Ministers, the second highest organ of the Common Market.
The Heads of State Summit is scheduled to meet in Burundi in 2018.