Uganda, Algeria Sign Pact to Eliminate Middlemen as They Engage in Direct Trade

Uganda and Algeria have taken a significant step to enhance their bilateral trade relations by creating a business council with the primary goal of eliminating middlemen and promoting direct trade. This announcement was made by Francis Mwebesa, the Minister for Trade and Cooperatives, during the inaugural Uganda-Algeria business forum.

Minister Mwebesa emphasized that the agreement, signed by him and Algeria’s Minister of Trade, immediately took effect and serves as the guiding document for their bilateral trade relations. He highlighted the critical role of this initiative in addressing the persistent challenge posed by middlemen, stating, “Middlemen have quietly hindered Uganda’s bilateral trade links for far too long. Eliminating their role in this new alliance with Algeria marks a resounding victory for ordinary Ugandans.” He expressed optimism that this collaboration would streamline trade and exceed expectations.

The newly established council comprises 20 members, led by private sector organizations from both countries, with significant contributions from their respective Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs). The council has already commenced its work. As part of the comprehensive trade arrangement, Algeria has committed to providing vaccines, agricultural equipment, and various products spanning multiple sectors, promising mutual benefits for both economies.

Additionally, Algeria has pledged to establish direct trade routes by sea and air, eliminating intermediaries known for inflating prices, which will ultimately benefit both nations. Algeria currently ranks 13th among Uganda’s trading partners, and Minister Mwebesa urged Ugandans to seize this trade opportunity wholeheartedly to rectify the current trade balance, which favors Algeria. Alintuma Nsambu, Uganda’s Ambassador to Algeria, expressed concern about the underutilization of these opportunities by Ugandan businesses.

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He shared his experience, stating, “To demonstrate the quality of Ugandan products in the Algerian market, I became a ‘Mutembeyi’ (hawker) and successfully introduced Ugandan milk to Algeria. It’s disheartening that only Amos Diaries underwent a vetting process, and thank God it was approved. I implore our entrepreneurs to seize these opportunities; they are designed to propel your growth.” Cherif Oualid, the Algerian Ambassador to Uganda, highlighted the collaboration’s focus on eliminating intermediaries, as stipulated in the bilateral pact.

He emphasized that both Algeria and Uganda are committed to adding value to their products, gaining effective access to each other’s markets, and potentially serving as gateways to other markets. Odrek Rwabwogo, the presidential adviser on exports and industrial development emphasized the surge in consumption and the vast potential for the future. He urged Ugandans to be prepared to capitalize on upcoming opportunities, highlighting Uganda’s comparative advantages in various sectors. To address the trade deficit, Rwabwogo mentioned Uganda’s ambitious targets and aggressive strategies for increasing exports, particularly to Algeria, which currently accounts for a 1.5% share of Uganda’s exports.

Minister of Agriculture Frank Tumwebaze encouraged large-scale farmers to seek partnerships with Algerian investors and leverage each other’s capabilities to produce sustainably for export markets. He emphasized Uganda’s agricultural potential, climate, and available arable land, stressing the importance of value addition. “The potential for this partnership is evident, with Algeria already importing Ugandan coffee and milk. Through this collaboration, Ugandans can tap into the prospect of exporting finished products, thus propelling our country’s economic growth even further,” he asserted.

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Tumwebaze highlighted the significance of this collaboration, stating that it allows Ugandans to export finished products, contributing to Uganda’s economic growth. He also noted that while Uganda has 80% arable land, only 36% is currently cultivated, indicating untapped potential. The formation of the business council between Uganda and Algeria signifies a significant milestone in their bilateral trade relations. It presents lucrative opportunities for Ugandan businesses to access the Algerian market and beyond, potentially boosting economic growth for both nations.

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