United Kingdom Offers Uganda Free Market

The United Kingdom has revealed plans to remove tariffs and quotas on almost all imports from Uganda by the end of next year.  

Uganda and other least-developed countries benefit from the European Union’s Everything but Arms deal which allows them to export to the EU duty-free and quota-free all products except armaments.  

However, following the exit of the UK in 2020, Uganda’s former colonial master ceased being part of the deal and the exit meant that it would henceforth seek its own trade and economic agreements.  

London is in the process of signing such a deal with Uganda.  However, Lord Dolar Popat, the British Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy said that even before the agreement is concluded, his government will waive tariff and quota restrictions on more than 90 percent of products from Uganda. 

He also promised to ensure that Uganda starts getting cheaper credit from the UK with the involvement of the private sector.

He was speaking on Thursday at the Afro-Indian Investment Summit in Uganda, which also served as part of the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Uganda and the 50th anniversary of their expulsion.  Apart from India, most of them or them ended up in the UK and Canada.  

Lord Popat who was one of those that were born in Uganda called on President Yoweri Museveni to include Indians on his cabinet as the UK has done with other races including having a Prime Minister form East Africa, but also urged the Indians in Uganda to take active participation in politics. 

At the summit, investment deals worth 160 million dollars (636 billion shillings) were signed between New Indian investors and the Uganda Investments Authority. 

They included mining and mineral value addition and agro-processing investments worth 75 million dollars by Supreme Gold Corporation, a beverage manufacturing project worth 38 million dollars by Mukesh Kumar, and a hygiene product manufacturing factory by a paper recycling company, Chandria Industries Ltd.   

Supreme Gold Corporation Director Rao Chenman Mallikharjuna said Uganda was attractive to them because of the environmental and policy stability compared to other countries, giving the example of the riots that usually happen at South African mines, where the company is based.   

He also said Uganda should be getting more revenues from the vast mineral resources as is happening in other countries, but that the sector has lagged behind in attracting investors.

President Yoweri Museveni defended the country’s policy of allowing foreign investors to take out their profits up to 100 percent.  He said profit is a small part of a company’s output, but that the expenses met, including raw materials and labor, are the bigger part, yet the money remains in the country.   

He also downplayed the policy by other countries that set local partnerships as a condition for foreign investors, saying that it can discourage investments.   

Museveni also explained why the government decided to return the more than 8,000 properties previously confiscated in the 1970s to their Asian owners. He said one of the reasons was that it would not make sense not to reverse the situation when the country was trying to attract foreign investors.   

The summit was organized by the Indian Association of Uganda.  Association chairman Mohan Rao hailed the Ugandan government for the cordial relationship between the Indians in Uganda and India as a country over the years. 

He pledged that they will continue working for the progress of the country they call home.   

Sudhir Ruparelia, Trustee of the Indian Association Uganda, whose family, according to him, came to Uganda in 1903, also commended the government and specifically the ministries and agencies, for always giving audience to the investors whenever they have concerns.  

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