Government together with the private sector will in the course of this week engage in a number of activities to raise awareness as well as exchange ideas on how to grow the country’s exports.
The annual Export Week began on Tuesday February 12 with Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB) and International Trade Centre (ITC) facilitating a business clinic on service exports at Hotel Africana. This will be followed by similar engagements with the private sector focusing on commodity exports and agriculture on Wednesday and Thursday respectively at Imperial Royale Hotel.
This year’s Export Week is themed; ‘Export promotion, a key for industrialization and job creation’.
Brenda Katarikawe Opus, the Senior Export Marketing Executive at Uganda Export Promotion Board told SoftPower News that the Export Week seeks to create awareness about exports as well as bringing exporters together to share experiences on the export business, draw lessons but also to deliberate on the challenges they face.
“We have the business clinics which bring the export platforms together – the services, manufactured products and also agriculture and agro processed exports. Those three are to bring the different sectors together to discuss the pertinent issues in their sectors,” Katarikawe said.
She said the Week will also feature a conference where all stakeholders in the exports sector will hold discussions on achievements and areas of intervention. Later, UEPB will host the annual Awards gala where export businesses that have done exceptional work will receive the Presidential Award.
“The export business has a very unique contribution to the economy, and that deserves recognition. Exporters do a lot to get this foreign revenue, they go out there, get markets, come nurture and ensure that they deliver. That’s not easy. So, for them to be able to get into that whole international market, many of them on their own, it’s worth recognizing,” she said.
“That’s why we have the President’s Export Award and they are recognized in different sectors”.
She says that over the years, the Export Week together with the Award have contributed significantly to the growth of the exports sector, with more Ugandan businesses picking interest in the international market. Under this initiative, UEPB has also worked with Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) through its Export Readiness Program to prepare these enterprises for the global market.
Katarikawe said that key among the engagements throughout the Exports Week will be the issue of standards which is a crucial component of exports.
“We can’t stop talking standards, we can’t stol talking quality when we are talking exports. It’s a continuous improvement process. We are working with UNBS, we are working with Ministry of Agriculture especially for the agriculture and manufactured exports. For services as well, we have to meet standards as well,” Katarikawe said.
Uganda mostly exports agricultural products (80 percent of total exports) with the coffee making 22 percent of total exports. This is followed by tea, cotton, copper, oil and fish. Uganda’s main export partners are Sudan (15 percent), Kenya (10 percent), DR Congo, Netherlands, Germany, South Africa and UAE.
Uganda increased its export earnings by 7.23% to USD 2.8bn in 2017/2018, up from USD 2.69bn earned the previous year according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.