Delegates and private sector players attending the Uganda-South Africa Trade and Investment Summit have joined forces to call upon the governments of both nations to eliminate visa restrictions that have hindered smooth trade between them.
Despite their historical friendship, South African exports to Uganda currently stand at around 200 billion USD, while Uganda's exports to South Africa amount to less than 20 million USD.
This trade imbalance has prompted a collective effort to explore opportunities for mutual trade relations, leading to the convening of the Uganda-South Africa Trade and Investment Summit at Speke Resort Munyonyo.
The summit initiated honest discussions about the factors inhibiting trade, with a primary focus on visa restrictions.
High Commissioner Paul Amolo, Uganda's envoy to South Africa, and High Commissioner Luluana Xinghwana, South Africa's envoy to Uganda, acknowledged the need to address these barriers.
Uganda, primarily an agrarian economy, exports agricultural products with minimal value addition.
Stephen Asiimwe, the Executive Director of the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), emphasized the importance of finding markets and securing funding to enhance the value of Ugandan exports.
The South African Minister of Agriculture highlighted the significance of complying with set standards, emphasizing the room for further negotiations.
The discussions also delved into the challenges faced by Ugandan exporters, including financing, market accessibility, and regulatory frameworks.
Odrek Rwabwogo, Chairman of PACEID, stressed the need for the implementation of commitments previously agreed upon by businesses and governments of both countries.
The Uganda-South Africa Trade and Investment Summit facilitated business-to-business interactions, with the aim of fostering partnerships and formalizing letters of intent.
As the summit concluded, delegates expressed optimism that the removal of visa restrictions and concerted efforts by both governments and the private sector would lead to enhanced trade relations between Uganda and South Africa.
The summit marks a pivotal step toward strengthening economic ties between the two nations, potentially leveling the playing field and promoting balanced trade relations.