Uganda’s international trade, particularly with Rwanda has remained suppressed, according to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
Without giving detailed figures in trade volumes before and after Rwanda closed its main border with Rwanda at Katuna, URA Assistant Commissioner for Field Services, Stephen Magera said “we don’t have reasonable trade crossing between Uganda and Rwanda”.
“In Katuna, we are totally on zero in terms of moving goods, in Mirama hills, few trucks are crossing. The major players who used to transit through those stations are no longer sending the cargo,” he told SoftPower News.
He said URA is banking on the ongoing engagements between Uganda and Rwanda (at the political level) to restore normal trade.
Efforts to reach the Commissioner for Customs for details did not yield.
In July last year, URA reported that the closure of the Katuna border of Uganda and Katuna had seen a drop in exports for both countries.
The Commissioner for Customs at URA, Dicksons Kateshumbwa, said at the time that prior to the closure, the border at Katuna in Mable district handled at least 4,800 trucks and small cars in a month but this number fell to 700 after the route was closed by Rwandan authorities.
He said Uganda’s exports to Rwanda had fallen by 23 percent in the period March to July 2019 while imports from Rwanda to Uganda had equally fallen by 27 percent.
Three months ago, the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) placed the cost of the border closure at Shs 530 bn (March to November).
“Uganda has been losing USD 16 million (Shs 58.9bn) every month since Rwanda closed the border, affecting our food and beverages, steel, roofing materials, cement and sugar, ” Gideon Badagawa, the Executive Director of PSFU said.
He had earlier commented: “Time matters to businesses…. We are losing business in form of our own profits and jobs, investments are beginning to shrink. If you lose a market, then why would you expand? And this, reduces the tax base and the two economies consequently lose”.
In the wake of the closure of the border, URA wrote to Rwanda Revenue Authority expressing concern over the short notice on which Rwanda took the decision that has frustrated efforts towards trade facilitation within the East African region.
URA was also concerned that the decision was taken unilaterally yet it had serious economic consequences on different regional countries.