Uganda hopes to strengthen trade with US during Obama summit

Uganda’s business community is hoping to use the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi to strengthen its trade relations with the United States of America especially in the agribusiness sector.

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Uganda’s business community is hoping to use the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi to strengthen its trade relations with the United States of America.

The head of policy, research and advocacy at the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ezra Rubanda told The EastAfrican that they anticipate deliberations during the summit to focus on striking deals between the US and the local entrepreneurs in the agribusiness sub-sector.

“We are expecting real deliberations on investing in agribusiness, value addition, and thus improving quality and profitability at different level of the chain in the agriculture sub-sector,” Mr Rubanda said.

Mr Rubanda said Uganda is agricultural country, and thus any investment focusing on industrialisation need to be tailored around the available raw materials in the agriculture sector.

Agriculture sector

Uganda’s agriculture sector employs 69 per cent of the estimated 33.9 million people but contributes to only about 21 per cent to the gross domestic product, with its annual growth figure stagnated as low as three per cent for the last three years.

Mr Godfrey Magezi, the director at the Uganda Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and at least ten other members from the private sector are slated to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which will be attended by US President Barack Obama on Saturday.

Mr Rubanda said the Uganda’s business community expect to seal deals that will benefit both the US and local entrepreneurs in an equal measure.

Asian surge

Uganda’s trade volumes with the United States have not been promising in the past four years especially with the growing interest of Asian nations – China, India, and South Korea – in Africa, with the urge to invest in oil and gas, infrastructure, renewable energy and agriculture as well as explore new market for their industrial products.

Data from the Bank of Uganda shows that while Uganda’s exports to USA have grown 73.4 per cent to $36.37 million in 2014 in the past four years, the country’s import volumes from the latter sharply dropped during the same period as the Asian nations mainly China and India increased their influence on the African continent.

Uganda’s imports from the United States consisting mainly of heavy machinery declined from $130.5 million in 2010 to merely $75.55 million in 2014 as traders showed great interests to trade with the Asian nations.

However, Uganda’s import volumes from China and India increased from $379.85 million and 628.5 million in 2010 to $548.6 million and $1.24 billion last year, respectively.

Source: The EastAfrican

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