Until last month, Uganda was Kenya’s biggest trading partner.
Uganda imported Kenyan goods worth a handsome UGX2trillion in 2019 and exported goods worth UGX1.7 trillion to Kenya.
The bulk of Kenya’s exports to Uganda are manufactured goods while Uganda’s exports to Kenya are dominated by Agricultural raw products and semi-processed goods like maize, animal feeds, milk, fruits and sugar.
In recent months and years however, the Kenyan government has erected more barriers against our exports in total violation of the East African customs union treaty and other EAC economic cooperation arrangements that require free movement of goods, services and persons.
Kenya started by blocking Uganda’s dressed chicken. They went ahead to block Uganda’s sugar and now they have blocked our sugarcane.
The amount of non-tarrif barriers being erected by Kenya are multiplying everyday.
Uganda manufacturers, farmers and traders have raised these concerns to the Ugandan government for intervention but in vain.
President Museveni has not responded with a clear answer to resolve this impasse, and many are losing hope.
The President’s soft approach has left many puzzled, asking why he fails to defend our interests!
Trade matters are so important that they should never be taken casually.
It is time president Museveni adopted a more aggressive stance with Kenya and demand that Kenyans respect their obligations fully.
If they refuse, the government should impose retaliatory taxes, the way President Donald Trump did to China.
The government’s soft stance already cost manufacturers during last year’s dispute with Rwanda.
It is also worth remembering that Ugandan traders lost billions of shillings in South Sudan when the institutions and leading figures in President Salva Kiir’s government refused to pay for goods and works that had been supplied by Ugandans.
In recent years, the government has been trying to get money from the consolidated fund to clear debts incurred by South Sudanese.
We are asking the government: Why should Ugandan tax payers pay UGX 947Bn owed to Ugandans by the government and business people in South Sudan?
A government without a spine is crippling us, killing our manufacturing sector and keeping us trapped in poverty.
President Uhuru Kenyatta will bow to the demands of Kenyan farmers, unless our leaders stand on their feet to demand for similar treatment that we accord its products and nationals.
Ugandans are harassed in Kenya and Tanzania when they ask for jobs, yet their nationals continue to enjoy red-carpet treatment when it comes to jobs.
Ugandans must rise up and demand that our government stands up for our people