President Yoweri Museveni has directed the Ministry of trade to take action against foreign investors particularly the Chinese and Indians who are engaging in retailing goods in different parts of the country, especially in Kampala.
Museveni said: “It is not correct for the regulators not to take action against the Chinese and Indian retailers who unfairly compete against our retailers. Those foreigners should not operate at that terminal level. They should be re-directed to manufacturing in particular and other areas like construction. Retailing should be preserved for the Ugandans or, the other African immigrants as well,” he said.
The president’s comment will certainly be welcomed by Ugandan business people who have long complained of unfair competition with the foreigners. Other Ugandans have also expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the foreigners have been a source of spikes in rent as well as the exchange rate since they keep their wealth in dollars.
On many streets of Kampala, several Chinese and Indian nationals are engaged in businesses such as vending pharmaceutical products, electronics, hardware as well as the supermarket business.
Limiting foreigners from engaging in retail business has been a regular call by members of the Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA), but it is not the first time the president has made a similar statement.
But the directive comes at a tricky moment when Uganda’s economy is considered to be highly vulnerable to shocks such as foreign exchange scarcity. Implementing the directive at this point when Uganda is facing a foreign exchange squeeze could worsen the problem.