The UK has insisted that Brexit gives it a chance to negotiate closer trade deals with African countries and that it will strengthen trade and economic relations. However, this is posing a challenge for countries like Uganda, which have to export their products through the EU to the UK and have to go through different custom procedures that came with it.
Ugandan exporters are crying over the business disruption
caused by the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union alias Brexit
as they were coming to terms with the effects of Covid-19.
The UK voted to
leave the EU in 2016. While it officially left the trading bloc on January 31st,
2020 both sides agreed to keep many things the same until the end of the year
to allow enough time to agree on the terms of a new trade deal.
The move gave the UK the freedom to negotiate its
own trade deals with other countries and blocs, and set its own trade policies. However,
the exit from the EU meant that the region will consider goods from other
countries going to the UK as goods in transit and will treat them as so.
This includes tests for photo sanitary and other standards at
different border checkpoints or airports. Uganda’s products have
severally faced standards issues with the EU and other countries including neighbouring
Kenya, amidst complaints that some countries use the word to deprive Uganda of
The UK has insisted that Brexit gives it a chance
to negotiate closer trade deals with African countries and that it will
strengthen trade and economic relations. However, this is posing a challenge for countries like Uganda, which have to export their products
through the EU to the UK and have to go through different custom procedures
that came with it.
KK Fresh Foods and Products Exporters Ltd says it is becoming
too costly to export to the UK, their otherwise biggest single market as the
goods have to spend several days on the way, especially due to the customs
checks through the EU. The Managing Director, KK Foods, James
Kanyije says it would be easier if the UK had testing labs at its borders with
the EU, but they do not.
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KK usually export 1.7 tons of fresh foods to the EU, which
included the UK, but they say that in 2020 they exported half of this because
of the problems with transportation and a decline in the export market due to
Covid-19. This, according to Kanyije, is further expected to fall
to 400 kilograms amidst new COVID-19 restrictions as well as the implementation
of the provisions of Brexit.
Since London instituted new anti-Covid-19
measures, flight connections between Europe and England have become very hard,
leading to further delays.
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The Ministry for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives has of recent
been advising Ugandan exporters to first concentrate on the local and regional
markets because there is demand for Ugandan products, and that it is easier to
However, Kanyike says the requirements for the
international markets are also largely the same as those for the regional
markets. He says that in some instances, it is actually easier to ship
goods to Europe than to African countries, especially due to lack of a
convenient transport system.
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He urges the government of Uganda to build a cold chain so
that Ugandans are able to keep their products fresh from the processors to the
market, because the traders and farmers do not have that capital.
Operation Wealth Creation is one of the government agencies
that has been involving in activities to boost agriculture production and
productivity. Major Rubaramira Ruranga, the Director for Health at
OWC admits that the problem is poor planning, where the country has put more
effort in production without first working on the market and marketability of