UTN News

ECONOMISTS CAUTION GOVERNMENT ON FREE TRADE AREA.

Economists and the Public Sector have advised Government against fully opening up the region for free trade policies in the tripartite trade.<\p>

If adopted, the move will open up a free trade policy for all countries in the East African Community region, Southern African Development Commission and the Common Market for East and Southern African countries to enjoy unlimited trade with no barriers.<\p>

At a meeting organized by Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute-SEATINI in Kampala, The Private sector cautioned the ministry of Trade and Industry to pay close attention to value addition to products before it takes part in the inter regional trade negotiations to avoid the risk of losing policy space.<\p>

Dr Fred Muhumuza a professor at the School of Economics at Makerere University says the ministry should be keen on the idea of harmonizing before it decides to open up to the Tripartite Free Trade Area.<\p>

Muhumuza says, Uganda’s economy can not be harmonized with neighboring Kenya and all other states under COMESA and SADC as the industrial sector has been stunted over the years. BYTE-DR MUHUMUZA<\p>

Dr Muhumuza says Uganda’s economy is not ready to engage in such alliances due to poor investment policies, production of low quality goods, poor infrastructure, and poor trade monitoring where foreign investors take on jobs meant for Nationals.<\p>

This plays against the other member states that float the local market with cheap commodities.<\p>

The Executive Director of SEATINI, Amb.Nathan Irumba highlighted the challenges that Uganda will encounter, like unfair trading terms, abolishing its local tariffs, and opening its economy to cheap and low quality products from member states. BYTE-AMB IRUMBA<\p>

If adopted, countries under COMESA and SADC with better economies will have a free trade advantage over Uganda. These include Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, and Zambia among others.<\p>

This will open up a stiff competition, likely to affect the local industrial sector and the private sector as well. Amb. Irumba challenged the implementation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area that will have the potential to become a game changer in regional trade.<\p>

Irumba further noted that Uganda has not successfully achieved the three pillars that include Market Integration, Regional Cooperation in industrialization and infrastructural development, which is a threat to the country’s economy. BYTE IRUMBA<\p>

Uganda majorly exports Primary Commodities which require a strong infrastructural upgrade to have a fair competition. He further notes that Uganda has already been engaged in other reciprocal trade partnerships, like the East African Community, European Union, and others whose benefits to the country need to be evaluated.<\p>

The formation of FTA was approved by the heads of states and governments of COMESA, EAC, and SADC on October 22, 2008.<\p>

The Tripartite FTA comes at a time when Uganda’s economy is facing numerous challenges including enormous debts (currently standing at $8.6 billion), inflationary pressures estimated at 4.5% and a trade deficit reportedly at Shs.11.2 trillion by August 2016.

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