Nairobi and Kampala have commenced talks to strengthen the trade relationships between the two East African nations, looking at key commodities like sugar, maize and milk that have recently been affected by policies rolled out by Kenya.
According to Uganda’s foreign affairs ministry, both countries had their representatives at the ministry’s head office in Kampala to deliberate on initiatives to advance economic diplomacy, as Uganda looks to increase trade volumes of goods exported to Kenya.
Grace Adong, an official from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, noted that the benefits of integration and cooperation far outweigh the costs.
Adong, who is the ministry’s, acting permanent secretary, revealed that total trade between Uganda and Kenya has increased from $168 million registered in 1999 to $1.247 billion in 2020, an increment of 644%.
Ambassador Johnson Weru, the principal secretary of Kenya’s State Department for Trade, Enterprise and Development, said that the meeting was to, among others, follow up on what was agreed during December and March 2019 meetings between President Kenyatta and President Museveni, which was aimed at increasing the amount of sugar export from Uganda beyond the COMESA protocol.
According to the Principal Secretary, the issue of whether the quota of 20,000 metric tons of Ugandan sugar that was eligible to enter Kenya had been resolved.
He also noted that East Africa’s largest economy was looking to import more sugar from her western neighbor. Sugar is one of the key products of Uganda.
At the moment, Uganda has an annual production capacity of approximately 550,000 metric tons with a domestic consumption of approximately 360,000 metric tons, leaving a surplus of 190,000 mts.
In December 2019, during the Mid- Term Review of the outcomes of the Joint Ministerial Commission held in Kampala, the two parties noted that the sugar exports had increased from 36,000 metric tons to 57,273 metric tons as of October 2019.
It was then agreed that a verification Mission would be undertaken by Kenya to Uganda to ascertain the origin status of Uganda’s sugar in order to be considered for further increases of the quota to 90,000 metric tons.
The Verification Mission will undertake field visits to the following factories; Sezibwa sugar factory, SCOUL sugar factory, FM sugar factory, Mayuge sugar factory, Kakira sugar factory, Kaliro sugar factory, Kamuli sugar factory, Bwendero sugar factory, Hoima sugar factory, Kyenjojo sugar factory, Kiryandongo sugar factory, Atiak sugar factory Victoria sugar factory among others.
The Joint verification Trade Mission will not only involve the sugar verification exercise but also tackle other market access challenges in areas such as poultry, maize and dairy products.