Uganda’s Traders Advocate For Retaliatory Measures In Response To Kenyan Export Ban

The Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) has urged the government to consider retaliatory measures against the Government of Kenya, citing what they perceive as ill-treatment of Uganda and significant harm to investments. In response to the persistent ban on Ugandan exports to Kenya, traders have called for retaliation, asserting that diplomatic channels have proven ineffective.

Richard Mubiru, Executive Director of UMA, emphasized the need for a retaliatory approach, stating, “Our very blunt demand as manufacturers is there should be a retaliatory measure because we cannot be in a marriage where you cannot enter some bedrooms. Every time we speak about mistreatment of Uganda, the government is in unending engagements with Nairobi and other capitals.”

Mubiru made this statement during a presentation on the state of the economy at a meeting of the Committee on National Economy on Thursday, 26 October 2023. He highlighted that the ban on milk exports to Kenya in March 2023 severely impacted trade, leading companies like Brookside Uganda to lay off half of their employees, especially given that Kenya accounts for 75 percent of Brookside’s dairy market. He also expressed concern about the recent ban on wheat and maize exports to Kenya, emphasizing the need for stronger diplomatic relations in the region to prevent Uganda from being disadvantaged in trade disputes.

Additionally, Mubiru urged the government to explore trade opportunities with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and advocated for securing funding for initiatives targeting women, youth, and smallholder exporters in the DRC. He emphasized the importance of an export insurance policy to safeguard against trade losses, suggesting it would reduce the need for government compensation in the event of trade disruptions.

Isingiro County South Member of Parliament, Hon. Alex Byarugaba, stressed the importance of the private sector’s cooperation in regulating what he described as illegal trade. He pointed out instances where traders allegedly mixed local products with imported goods, leading to bans on Ugandan products. Meanwhile, Kalungu East County MP and Shadow Minister for East African Community Affairs, Hon. Francis Katabaazi, called for enhanced diplomatic efforts in the region to mitigate trade disputes, citing recent issues with South Sudan as well.