PACEID Roots for Market Entry of Ugandan Products into China

By Victor Musiimenta

A nine person Uganda trade and exports delegation led by Mr. Odrek Rwabwogo, Chairman of the Exports and Industry Advisory committee (PACEID), on Friday April 26th, 2024, rallied several Chinese agro-industrial companies that are product off-takers and investors in Guangzhou, Guangdong province of China, to focus on Uganda as a source of good agricultural products.

The meeting which was attended by over 80 product buyers, investors in agriculture, mining, electronics, logistics and education services was held at the Oriental Resort Hotel just outside Shenzhen city. Rwabwogo praised the leadership of China since 1949 for providing a good example to developing countries on how to restore a nation, make it rich and strong saying, “city of Shenzhen which began experimentation with the Free zones export idea in the 1990s has led China’s economic resurgence and growth in the last 40 years”. The event was co-hosted by the Institute of African studies of the Guangdong university of foreign studies and CN light technologies, manufacturers of LED screens, computers, electronics and household goods. The event coincided with the annual Canton trade fair in China which takes place from April in the city of Shenzhen.

Speaking at the event, Prof. Liu Jisen, head of the Institute of African studies challenged Ugandan producers to ensure sustainability of supplies they promise to China. “We are working with importation of beef from Zambia. Why would we not try Ugandan beef? It is because we are not sure that even when you fulfill standards required in China, you will sustain the import demand here. China demands more food products and your consistency will be an issue if you do not plan ahead” he said. Prof. Liu asked how many products entry protocols Uganda has signed with China and requested to sign an understanding with the Ministry of Education’s Department of Industrial Training (DIT) in order to improve skills for Ugandan exporters. Uganda has Quota free duty-free product entry into China for more than 90 percent of her agricultural products but few protocols on standards and compliance measures on food safety have been signed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal industry and fisheries.

China which exports more than USD1.3bn annually to Uganda has made a case for Uganda’s avocados, bananas, pineapples, mangoes, Sesame, coffee, dried chili peppers, macadamia, castor oil and seeds, sorghum, cocoa and many more products but few Ugandan firms have been able to supply them. Uganda last year sold less than USD100m to China. The airport of Baiyun in Guangzhou handles more than 26million passengers and over 1.8million tones annually. The city and port of Guangzhou is one of the top ten import centers for China. Rwabwogo who presented the history of the trade relations with Asia from the year 1455 with Africa and the current changes Government of Uganda through PACEID has instituted to drive the target of USD6bn, assured the buyers of Uganda’s capacity to use export credit funding for firms that get orders.
He said “we are improving the phytosanitary standards for our food products, modernizing our laws and regulations and their enforcement and also establishing trade representation in key markets. These are some of the new measures President Yoweri Museveni is applying to remove doubts from buyers of our food”. He added, “we are creating critical awareness about Uganda as a good source of products because of the reforms we are making in infrastructure such as energy, roads and water to reduce production costs for firms and improve the business environment”. Uganda has lately experienced a surge in production of commodities such as coffee, dairy and beverages and Government is investing approximately USD400m annually in Parish development model (PDM) to spur more household production. PACIED aims at connecting markets to the Uganda makes and encourages young people to use new technological channels to trade in the external markets being opened”. PACEID which works as a catalyst for ministries and departments of government that deal with exports and manufacturing, is building export product consortiums at regional level in order to make it easier for aggregators, transporters, financiers and investors in Agri value addition to source easier from Uganda.

The Uganda Consul General to Guangzhou, Dr. Judith Nsababeera who attended the PACEID buyer-seller summit, said, “We are building our own headquarters here for the embassy and we will work with PACEID to have an information centre and Trade Hub for Uganda products”. Uganda sells through Hong Kong small volumes of meat products including Fish maws, casein (ingredient of milk), coffee and grains such as simsim and more. The meeting which was attended by packaging, mining and electrical companies also had firms such as the Guangdong import and export company, wire and cable manufactures, Tourism related firms led by Kenten Structures Limited that specializes in large exhibitions, logistics and many others.

Earlier in the day, the Ugandan delegation met the provincial government officials of Guangdong and visited CN lights company, meeting with senior officials of the firm. The delegation was conducted around the manufacturing facility which makes LED lights and solar panels. The company is investing more than USD30m in the next five years in an assembly and production plant for tablet computers, solar lights and other household appliances in Uganda. CN light which began in 1992, is listed on the stock exchange in Shanghai. It is led by Mr. Watson Chai and Mr. Dai Jen Wei. It has subsidiaries in production of textiles and fabrics, electronics, data security and computing. The company signed a memorandum of Understanding with PACEID to pursue the search for off takers of Ugandan products and investors in mining and agriculture.

The PACEID team which includes Ambassador Kiema Kilonzo consultant on regional trade and officials from NITA, on Saturday visited Foshan region to inspect computer production plants, textile companies and meet retailers of agricultural products.