Uganda, Somalia Moot Intensive Plan to Improve Trade Relations

Uganda’s intensive campaign to improve the country’s exports took another upward turn in August with the hosting of the first ever Uganda-Somalia investment and Business Summit in Kampala.

Since 2007, Uganda’s interests in Somalia were headlined by security whereby thousands of Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) boots are on the ground to hunt down terrorists loyal to Al Shabaab. But the narrative is about to change going by what transpired at the business summit whose theme was, Promoting Partnership between Uganda and Somalia through trade, investment and tourism.

Officials who attended the summit said several documents were signed, including a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral trade cooperation. Key to note was the deal between the Uganda Revenue Authority and Somalia Investment and Promotion Office aimed at promoting trade and investment as well as addressing the bottlenecks to investment between the two countries.

To further ensure smooth flow of trade, a Joint Permanent Investment and Business Council was put in place to keep on monitoring and evaluating the implementation of some of the agreed upon decisions and commitments.  

Documents signed by top ministers from the two states made it clear that responsible agencies should “enhance awareness about investment and business opportunities that exist between Uganda and Somalia”.

Furthermore, the summit committed to “enhance effective communication with the private sector on investment, trade and tourism policies” in the two countries as well as identifying goods and services for trade and investment.

To express solidarity, urgency and importance of the business summit, both President Yoweri Museveni and Somali counterpart Hassan Sheikh Mohamud graced the occasion.

Without wasting any time, immediately some products were listed that Uganda could start exporting to Somalia. These included agricultural products such as coffee, avocado, pineapples, sugar, frankincense, Arabic gum and sesame oil. Others were marine/sea food, animal products and services such as financial services, banking and remittances.

However, Uganda’s taste for trade was not going to stop at exploring the market in Somalia as witnessed by some of the clauses in the signed MoU. “Somalia will provide Uganda an opportunity for being a conduit through which commerce and trade with neighbouring countries such as Yemen, Ethiopia, Djibouti and access to the Indian Ocean and commercial contacts in the Middle East and Asia may be fostered,” the pact states.

After drawing the intensive plan, ministries were given responsibilities to ensure trade starts immediately.

Uganda’s trade ministry was for instance tasked with consulting with Uganda Airlines and Uganda Air Cargo Corporation to become part of the MoU. The same minister was asked to put in place mechanisms, which will ensure that Somalis traders get value for money once business opens between the two countries.

On the other side, the sister ministry in Somalia was also tasked with the same responsibilities as both parties committed to ensuring there is not sabotage of trade by removing all non-tariff barriers.

Now that the paperwork is done, Ugandan investors can hope for a wider market in the region as long as there is assurance regarding an improved security situation in Somalia.

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