The UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Uganda, Lord Popat of Harrow, is in Uganda to further strengthen trade ties between Uganda and the UK.
He is visiting together with UK companies engaged in the agricultural sector and spoke at the Agri-connect conference being held at the Serena Hotel.
The conference sought to reaffirm the UK’s commitment to strengthen trade relations and opportunities with Uganda. The Agri-connect conference is hosted by the UK’s Department for International Trade in collaboration with Uganda Export Promotion Board and seeks to expand the UK’s investment in developing new supply chains in the agricultural sector in Uganda.
During his visit, Lord Popat has also undertaken site visits to companies exporting goods to the UK including the Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited and Kakira Sugar Works Limited.
On Monday, he delivered the keynote address at the Chamber of Young Entrepreneurs conference where he shared his experience in business with young entrepreneurs.
Lord Popat will meet with key stakeholders in the agricultural, health and energy sectors and with President Yoweri Museveni.
The Uganda Ministry of Agriculture recently signed a £120 million MOU with two UK companies, Alvan Blanch and COLAS UK Ltd to develop agro-processing plants in Uganda.
This is part of a £600 million UK Export Credit that is available to Uganda and is already financing the construction of Hoima International Airport and Kampala Industrial Business Park Namanve. Lord Popat expects his visit to Uganda will further build mutual prosperity for both the UK and Uganda.
“By bringing UK companies to Uganda, I wish to boost trade and investment between our two countries. Regional markets are very convenient, and it is becoming easier to trade across borders – thanks to initiatives like Trade Mark East Africa for which the UK funds 70%,” he said.
But he noted that whilst regional markets clearly drive demand for much of what Uganda grows, they are also volatile, with changing tariffs and policies, which do not always provide the certainty that Ugandan growers and producers would like.
“These big UK players can provide that certainty and the volumes to supplement your growing regional trade – so today let’s explore what needs to be done to make that happen”.
He added: “Currently exports of goods to the UK account for just £2m a year and the aim is to double that, we want to sustain an increase year on year of exports going to the UK – because it makes business sense”.
Lord Porpat said the idea of this conference is about strategically building trade between our nations and teasing out the barriers and the missed opportunities – so that we can grow mutual prosperity between us’.
The Minister of State for Cooperatives Honourable Frederick Ngobi Gumestre stressed Uganda’s commitment to improving the business environment.
“We have taken a strategic direction to embrace the liberal trade policy and continue to drive the economy in different spheres such as computerised land registry, quick access to licenses and registration, the introduction of electronic single window system, across border trade initiatives”.
“We invite UK companies to take advantage of the strategic location of Uganda at the hub if the Great Lakes region with markets access to EAC, COMESA and Tripartite FTA”.