Uganda and South Sudan are set to hold their first Joint Business Forum running under the theme ‘Enhancing Bilateral Trade and Investment through Industrialisation and Infrastructure Development'.
The event, which was officially announced on Wednesday at the Foreign Affairs headquarters in Kampala is set to take place in Juba, South Sudan from 18th – 21st July 2022.
It is an initiative by of Uganda's Embassy in South Sudan (Juba), the Embassy of South Sudan in Uganda (Kampala) in conjunction with the ministries of Foreign Affairs and the private sectors from both countries.
"This Business Forum is a private sector-driven event which will engage both the public sector and business partners from both countries through information sharing, working sessions, business-to-business interactions, Government to Business interactions and a business exhibition to showcase South Sudan and Uganda business companies," reads an official statement.
"It will focus on solutions to business challenges and opportunities to boost trade and investment relations between private and public sector stakeholders."
South Sudan is one of Uganda’s biggest trading partners with trade volumes amounting to over $400 million dollars and officials says this Business Forum aims at increasing trade volumes to 1 billion dollars annually.
Vincent Bagiire Waiswa, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs while launching the Business Forum hailed the excellent bilateral relations between Uganda and South Sudan.
He further appreciated the efforts of the two embassies for originating the idea, saying: "I am convinced that working together will not only improve our cordial bilateral relations but also greatly improve the livelihoods of our two people."
He also emphasized the need for business people to discuss challenges and identify opportunities to promote trade and investment in both South Sudan and Uganda.
The Permanent Secretary also emphasized the Ministry's mandate of coordinating all of Uganda’s interests and promote them in the international arena.
Uganda's Ambassador to S. Sudan Gen. Ronnie Balya reiterated that this will be the first Business Forum to be held between Uganda and South Sudan since South Sudan became independent in 2011.
Gen. Balya also informed that the last Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) was last held in 2012, 10 years ago and expressed optimism it would take place soon.
According to him, some of the expected outcomes of the business forum include credible first-hand information on trade and investment in both countries, a comprehensive understanding of regulatory frameworks, taxation, and legal regimes between both countries to ease trade and an overview of investment opportunities for businessmen and women.
South Sudan’s Ambassador to Uganda, Amb. Simon Duku Micheal invited Ugandans to invest in some of the projects in South Sudan which had been identified but were never implemented.
Some of the target areas of interest he mentioned included the enhancement of trade and commerce, mining sector, tourism sector, textiles, and oil and gas.