Uganda and Tanzania have resumed talks aimed at eliminating trade barriers, a major hindrance to the smooth flow of trade between the two countries.
During a Joint Permanent Committee meeting held in Kampala, officials from both countries also agreed to continue pursuing joint infrastructure projects.
Uganda has over the years blamed Tanzania of instituting several non-tariff barriers that have thwarted seamless trade between the two countries.
Uganda’s trade volumes have been affected by the non-tariff barriers imposed by Tanzania. These include restrictions on exports such as sugar, milk and movement on Ugandan trucks.
For example, Ugandan trucks entering Tanzania are charged road user fees of up to $500 from Mutukula border to Dar es Salaam, yet the country charges a flat rate of $152 for trucks from other countries.
Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, who led the Tanzanian delegation, said the two countries were committed to working closely for the betterment of their people through trade and infrastructure development.ADVERTISEMENThttps://dc077df2f05101dea2aa53ecbdc288d6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
“I am comfortable that our Governments are several miles ahead to kick-start the construction of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP) and the operationalisation of the Murongo/Kikagati Hydro Power Project along Kagera River, just to mention a few,” she said.
During the meeting, the countries agreed to appoint focal points for all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the two countries who will coordinate and follow up on issues to ensure quick and full implementation on what has been agreed.
A joint permanent commission of ministers, permanent secretaries and government technocrats has for nearly four years held meetings to iron out issues affecting the trade between the two neighbours.
The issues of non-tariff barriers between Uganda and Tanzania, against the EAC common market protocol, has been persistent over the years. Whereas there have been several efforts to curb this, no concrete solution has been reached.
In a 2019, in a Tanzania-Uganda business summit held in Dar es Salaam, former Tanzanian president John Magufuli said that the barriers making Uganda uneasy “can be solved” while Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said “those putting the barriers don’t understand the importance of trade.”
“I am delighted to learn that both delegations have heeded to the call by our two Heads of State to work together to eliminate all Non-Tariff Barriers to facilitate trade between our two countries. Trade is an important element for our mutual growth and prosperity,” said Okello Oryem, Uganda’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Okello Oryem.
The two countries have embarked on some joint infrastructure projects, with the biggest being the EACOP.
“Uganda also attaches great importance to infrastructure development, we therefore acknowledge the progress made by the United Republic of Tanzania on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Morogoro to reach Mwanza.
“It will be good for Uganda if Bukasa port is completed as this will enhance connectivity and will reduce our transportation costs, [and] increase the attractiveness of Uganda as a business hub which will go a long way in improving the lives of our people,” Mr Oryem said.
Recently, Tanzania embarked on the renovation of a meter gauge railway line from Dar es Salaam through Dodoma up to Makutupora at a cost $3.2 billion.
This will connect to Tanzania’s Lake Victoria port of Mwanza where goods can be shipped to the Ugandan side at Port bell.
The renovations accordingly reduce time taken in transit from about three or four days to just 24 hours.
By shifting from road to rail, it is estimated that Ugandan traders, who currently spend $4,500 dollars on a container from Dar to Kampala, will spend $1,600 dollars.
According to The Uganda Bureau of Statistics, major imports from Tanzania include gold, rice, trailers and semi-trailers, rolled iron and non-alloy steel, dried and salted fish, as well as wheat.