Ugandan Traders Seek Retaliation Over Kenyan Export Ban

Richard Mubiru, Executive Director of UMA, emphasized the need for a retaliatory strategy. PHOTO/COURTESY

The Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) has called on the government to explore retaliatory measures against the Kenyan government, citing what they perceive as Uganda’s mistreatment and significant damage to investments.

As a response to the ongoing ban on Ugandan exports to Kenya, traders have expressed their frustration and are advocating for a more assertive approach, as diplomatic efforts appear to have yielded limited results.

Richard Mubiru, Executive Director of UMA, emphasized the need for a retaliatory strategy, stating, “We cannot be in a partnership where certain areas are off-limits. Despite continuous discussions regarding Uganda’s mistreatment, the government remains engaged in endless negotiations with Nairobi and other capitals.”

During a presentation on the state of the economy before the Committee on National Economy on October 26, 2023, Mubiru made this plea. The meeting also included representatives from the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) and the Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA).

Julius Byaruhanga, the director for policy and advocacy at PSFU, pointed out that the ban on milk exports to Kenya in March 2023 has had a significant negative impact on trade. He mentioned that Kenya represents 75 percent of Brookside Dairy’s market and the ban has led to substantial job losses in the industry.

Furthermore, the recent bans on wheat and maize exports to Kenya have disrupted Uganda’s agricultural exports, which were previously a vital source of revenue.

Traders are now advocating for the expansion of trade relations with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to its demonstrated potential. They believe that securing $500 million for DRC, with a focus on women, youth, and smallholder exporters, could substantially boost manufacturing output and generate significant annual revenue.

To achieve this, they stressed the need for an export insurance policy to protect the government from compensating trade losses. Isingiro County South Member of Parliament, Hon. Alex Byarugaba, urged the private sector to address illegal trade practices that have contributed to product bans, such as blending cheap imported rice with local rice and exporting it.

Hon. Francis Katabaazi, Kalungu East County MP and Shadow Minister for East African Community Affairs, highlighted the importance of enhancing diplomatic relations in the region to address trade disputes and ensure that Uganda is not a target for economic repercussions. He mentioned similar issues with South Sudan, where Ugandan trucks were seized over alleged toxins in food products.

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Busiinge Aggrey
Busiinge Aggrey
Business Aggrey" is a 23-year-old Ugandan journalist and Editor-in-Chief at The Black Examiner newspaper