Uganda is considering increasing its agricultural exports to the Republic of South Korea, the minister State for Trade Michael Werikhe Kafabusa has revealed.
Werikhe said that Uganda is expected to increase its exports to South Korea especially for key products such as coffee, tea and spices, live trees and other plant bulbs, among others.
Werikhe said this development is under the Market-linked Korea Project; funded by Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation Trust Fund (KOAFEC) at a tune of Shs 1.85bn ($500,000).
"This 12-month project is aimed at increasing and diversifying Uganda's exports in line with the National Development Plan II and the National Export Development Strategy," he said during the launch of the project recently.
Korea is the 11th largest economy in the world and its per capita income has recently passed the $30,000 mark. It is also ranked 5th among the exporting economies in the world (OECD 2018); with a very strong export base and a skilled labour force.
Uganda and South Korea have had a cordial relationship and diplomatic relations since 2014. According to Werikhe, Uganda exported to Korea goods worth $1.34 million in 2016, $ 0.21million in 2017 and $ 1.03 million in 2018. On the other hand, imports from Korea were worth $ 0.46 million in 2016, $0.69 million in 2017 and $ 0.86 million in 2018.
"Major imports from Korea include value-added good like bulldozers, graders, excavators, levelers, machines and other mechanical appliances, laboratory equipment, automatic data processing machines, office machines, and pharmaceuticals," he said.
Werikhe added; "The other products where we have potential to export include; cereals, fish and fish products, edible fruits and nuts, meat and edible meat offal, among others."
Elly Twineyo Kamugisha, the executive director, Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB), said MarketLinked is focusing on increasing and diversifying Uganda's exports to South Korea. MarketLinked is a market-development approach initiated by Irish Aid of Ireland in collaboration with UEPB in 2010.
"It essentially involves "handholding exporters" into target export markets; developing a market-entry strategy for Ugandan products and exporters into the Korean market," he said.
UEPB says the proposed strategies to grow trade between Uganda and South Korea will include holding trade fairs in South Korea, capacity building and development assistance in quality assurance.
"Under the Export Potential Assessment, we will assess production and export drivers, identify priority products and supply capacity and on the target market study, we will establish market and buyer requirements, identify critical supply chain actors and identify potential buyers," Twineyo said.
Twineyo added; "we encourage contract farming between South Korean companies and Ugandan farmers involved in the production of agricultural products."
UEPB will be lead implementers and will be working with the ministries of Trade, Agriculture, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and Industrial Research Institute (UIRI).
Although the prospects are high, UEPB believes the major challenge is that the country is still facing is exporting mostly bulky, low value or with minimum value addition, while we import high-value products from Korea.
Coffee exports were $1.34m, $ 0.21m and $.56m 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Tea and spices were $0.004m and $ 0.17m in 2017 and 2018 respectively, while
Live trees and other plant bulbs were; $ 0.004m and $0.001m 2017 and 2018 respectively.