The Embassy of Uganda in Washington, DC, hosted a Uganda- USA Business Breakfast Meeting at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center, in a drive to revitalize its Commercial Diplomacy and enhance Uganda-USA relations. The Breakfast meeting was attended by US Trade Stakeholders, representatives of the U.S State Department, the IMF and the World Bank and diplomats of the East African Community. In attendance also was Dr. Hillary Emma Musoke, Private Secretary to H.E the President of Uganda in charge of Youth in Agriculture, Value addition, Innovation and Export Promotion.
The theme of the Breakfast Meeting was: “Forging Towards Economic Recovery: We are Open For Business”, aimed towards economic recovery of Uganda and the U.S as the two countries gradually emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic that resulted in the slowdown of the global economy over the last two years.
The objectives of the event were to reinvigorate efforts on boosting bilateral trade and investment flow between Uganda and USA; to share information about current economic situation in Uganda and USA; to raise awareness about investment and business opportunities that exist in Uganda and USA; to create a platform for interaction between Uganda and USA businesses and private sectors as well as to identify areas that may need fast-tracking for economic recovery.
The Keynote Speakers at the event were H.E. Amb. Mull Katende who represented the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, presenting a paper on the latter’s behalf entitled “Business Opportunities and Investment Incentives in Uganda”; and the President and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa, Ms. Florie Liser, who presented a paper on “How Covid-19 has affected business and two-way trade between USA and Africa”.
The Uganda presentation focused on the need for both Uganda and the USA to jointly re-focus on strengthening bilateral business relations by addressing supply chain disruptions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and hindrances to sustainable two-way trade between the two countries. It was highlighted that Agriculture sector plays a crucial role in Uganda’s economy and that Government of Uganda is committed to addressing the on-going sector bottlenecks that are hindering the growth of agro-exports to the USA. Ambassador Katende put a spotlight on Government efforts to develop transport infrastructure, Value addition in agriculture production at different levels, and revamping the Uganda Bureau of Standards to solve quality and standards issues that impede access of Ugandan products to the U.S market.
Ms. Liser’s presentation focused on the urgent need for value addition in order for Africa to move from being a recipient of foreign aid to being a genuine trade partner whose share of world trade is recognizable. She pointed out that Africa accounts for only 2% of world trade, which means that Africa is at the lower end of the value chain despite its mineral and agricultural wealth. Ms. Liser emphasized that in the post- pandemic period, it is important for Africa to focus on value addition to hit at least a 5% minimum percentage of world trade. “Just a 1% increase in percentage points of trade share would be more than three times the amount of development assistance received by Africa world wide” she said.
She took the opportunity to announce that in the spirit of highlighting opportunities and dwelling less on challenges, the next US-Africa Business Summit would take place from 19th -22nd July 2022 in Marrakech, Morocco. She encouraged Uganda to take advantage of such opportunities and leverage on them for business promotion and economic recovery.
The ensuing discussion and debate following the keynote presentations was moderated by Mr. Dennis Matanda, CEO of Morgenthau-Stirling LLC an International Trade and development consultancy firm Washington DC the discussions emphasised the need to reset the stage for more trade promotion in both countries; renew and bolster already established business linkages as well as open new avenues and networks for doing business, trade and investment in Uganda and USA. The EAC group of Ambassadors present also encouraged the USA to see the potential of the EAC regional market in addition to rekindling a new spirit of doing business between Uganda and USA.
The Breakfast Meeting event established new networks and re-ignited keen interest and commitment to refocus on two-way trade and investment that had slowed down during the Covid-19 pandemic. It also generated discussions on lessons, tools and necessary policy direction that will help towards economic recovery and building stronger and sustainable business relations between Uganda and USA.