Uganda assumes COMESA leadership PDF Print E-mail

By David Mugabe

Later this week, Uganda will assume the chair of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a development that trade experts believe will bring huge benefits to the country.

Despite being a COMESA member, Uganda will for the first time also enter the free trade area (FTA) regime of the regional trade bloc.

Joining the FTA means the tariff charges on the majority of imports and exports between Uganda and other COMESA states will drop to 2% from 10% compared to what is levied on goods from states like China except for sensitive goods.


President Yoweri Museveni is expected to chair the 19-member trade bloc for the next one year.


As the chair, the country will also have the opportunity to influence discussions and decisions especially on trade related matters. Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde on Tuesday said the chairperson not only influences the outcomes of meetings by building consensus, but also increases the visibility of the country.

Kyambadde said the COMESA summit also provides Uganda the opportunity for sustainable growth through lobbying for increased markets and harmonized operations.

Kyambadde said one of the biggest opportunities from COMESA is the raising of the tax threshold to $2,000 for cross-border trade.

This means small traders and businesses operating in the bloc can carry goods worth up to $2,000 tax free across the borders.

COMESA secretariat has also set up business support centers for documentation for registered small traders.

“This is bringing them into the main statistics for trade, if we want to build our market, we have to look beyond the five countries,” said Kyambadde

Silver Ojakol, a commissioner for external trade, said the integration agenda is harmonised to a great extent.

“We need to keep the cohesion and integration agenda process sin place,” said Ojakol.

The double chance for Uganda is that it also assumes the chair of the East African Community (EAC) organs starting next month which glides into the bigger picture of allowing the country influence issues by setting a pro-African economic agenda. COMESA rise and Uganda’s gain as chair.

Established in Kampala in 1993, COMESA trade bloc has been the blue print for international trade in the region. It transformed from the previous Preferential Trade Area (PTA).

The trade bloc covers a market size of 389 million people with an import bill of $32b and an export bill of $82b.

The region is Uganda’s main export destination as opposed to the previous western markets that took up high value products.

It took a 59% market share of Uganda’s exports in 2010 falling to 61.3% in 2009.

As major economic blocks like the EU slide into recession and are threatened with break ups, COMESA has provided its member states with a lifeline because former exports destinations began to shrink amidst declining demand in the 2008 economic downturn till today.

Also, remittances from citizens abroad slackened.

But COMESA continued to provide both a strong market and a trade lifeline for its members.

For instance, the small southern African state of Swaziland exports about $20m worth of concentrate (bi-product from sugar) into Uganda. This further illustrates the strength and significance of Intra African trade.

“In a volatile global economic region, it is COMESA which has remained buoyant and has provided a bail out for states like Uganda, just imaging how Swaziland would be hurt if this market was not there,” said Ojakol.

For Uganda, Europe’s economic chaos will continue to impact on exports of flower especially coffee, tourism, fish as demand shrinks amidst less economic growth and a falling gross domestic product.

Because of this double chance; Uganda according to trade officials, is going to try as much as possible to move the integration agenda because the country has broader interests of what it wants to produce especially in agriculture.

“More and more of the goods going to northern Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi are made in Uganda,” notes Ojakol. These include detergents, cooking oil, building materials, drugs.

The other is that having hosted major conferences like Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, African Union, and Inter Parliamentary Union, the country is in the lime light again as a major conferencing destination.

“Your limelight should not dim, having 19 countries is not simple, it is good for tourism, good for business-one day we can talk of a grand prix or grand slam,” says one analyst.


Current News

Traders advised to shift focus on regional trade


Uganda is now prepared to increase trade with the continent’s regional blocs after it became apparent that it can reap just as much or even more from regional intra-trade than with its traditional trade partners in the EU and the Asian markets.

The Trade minister, Amelia Kyambadde said she is committed to ensuring that Uganda fully takes advantage of regional intra-trade through provision of inducement.

Comesa political federation is unrealistic, says Museveni

President Museveni has discouraged a political integration at the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) level, saying it is “unrealistic”.

According to the President, it does not make sense for the 19 Comesa members to federate politically.
“At the EAC (East African Community) we are doing the economic integration and then move to a political federation. But for Comesa, it should be economic integration because political federation is unrealistic,” he said.

Museveni asks Comesa to focus on intra-trade

President Museveni has advised the Comesa member states to shift to intra-regional and local trade. Speaking at the closure of the Comesa meeting in Kampala on Friday, President Museveni said: “The problem is not the market, but the entrepreneurs to take up the opportunities available.”

According to President Musveni, Uganda’s growth was halted by conflicts that peaked during the 1970s with the expulsion of Indians who were the drivers of the economy.

COMESA pushes for joint infrastructure projects

By Raymond Baguma & Samuel Sanya

Member states of the Common Market of East and Southern Africa (COMESA) have resolved to fast-track the implementation of joint infrastructure projects in railways, energy, roads and ICT to boost regional development.

COMESA gets new Assistant Secretary General (Programmes)

COMESA now has a new Assistant Secretary General (Programmes). Ambassador Dr. Kipyego Cheluget has been sworn in. Dr. Cheluget before his appointment was Kenya's Ambassador to Zambia and Malawi.

COMESA summit opens in Kampala

By Raymond Baguma

The African heads of state meeting in Kampala is today expected to adopt a report on regional trade, arising out of a meeting of the Council of Ministers.

The Summit Opens

Presidents Mwai Kibaki ( Kenya), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Joyce Banda(Malawi) are in the Summit at Munyonyo.

Uganda will be the chair,DR Congo - vice chair and Malawi - Rapporteur.

Optimism as Uganda joins Comesa’s free trade zone


The eighth Comesa Business Forum closed yesterday November 21st 2012, leaving behind both the good and bad news. The good news is that Uganda is now a member of the Comesa Free Trade Area (FTA) and the bad news is that — depending on how Uganda plays the ball - it could end up as a dumping ground for regional products.

Peace and security paramount to achieve Comesa objectives: Amama Mbabazi

Peace and security amongst Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) member states and with our neighbours is paramount to achieving all other objectives.

This was Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi’s message at the opening of the 31st COMESA Council of Ministers meeting going on in Kampala.

Comesa Business gurus meet Tuesday to discuss role of SMEs

Comesa businessmen are converging today Tuesday 20th November 2012 in Kampala to discuss how to promote small and medium enterprises development in the region. The 8th business forum under the theme: ‘Enhancing Intra-COMESA Trade through Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development; Seizing opportunities for Innovation and Prosperity in Business’ will take place at the Commonwealth Speke Resort Munyonyo.

COMESA deal to boost exports

By David Mugabe

The private sector has lauded the Government for ratifying the COMESA free trade area, saying it will open huge markets for the country.

The Private Sector Foundation boss Gideon Badagawa described the decision as a good development for trade and investments.

“Now that the Government has pronounced itself, we will go full scale to sensitise our members,” said Badagawa over the weekend. Cabinet last week approved a recommendation by the minister of trade for Uganda to join the COMESA free trade area (FTA).

Six presidents for Kampala COMESA mee

By David Mugabe

Six presidents have confirmed participation in next week's COMESA heads of state summit to be held on November 23, 2012 in Kampala.

Thirty First Intergovernmental Committee

Thirty First Intergovernmental Committee will be starting today 15th November 2012 at 9:00 AM (GMT+3)

Uganda to sign Comesa free trade area treaty

Uganda will ratify the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) free trade area, according to Mr Mr Gerald Sendaula, the chairman of Private Sector Foundation Uganda.

Uganda assumes COMESA leadership

By David Mugabe

Later this week, Uganda will assume the chair of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a development that trade experts believe will bring huge benefits to the country.

COMESA 2012 Summit Kicks Off!

The COMESA 2012 Summit has kicked off with the 14th COMESA Meeting of the Administrative and Budgetary Committee  at Munyonyo Resort today 13th November 2012. The meeting is to be attended by delegates from Burundi, DRC, Egypt, Eretria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Media Breakfast on 8th November - Imperial Royale

There will be a media briefing Breakfast on the progress and preparations of the COMESA 2012 Summit at Imperial Royale Hotel on 8th November 2012. Be there.

16th Summit launched in Uganda

The Minister of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives in the Government of Uganda, Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, on Wednesday, 26 September 2012 held a press briefing in order to launch the country’s hosting of this year’s Summit to the media. At the briefing hon. Kyambadde said that Uganda is a founder member of the PTA in 1982, and that the Treaty transforming the PTA to COMESA was signed in Kampala on 05 November 1993.

“Uganda agreed to host the Summit this year, and it shall take place at the Speke Resort, Munyonyo on 23-24 November 2012 alongside various Policy Organs’ meetings that commence on 13 November 2012.”


  COMESA 2012 Summit Secretariat Plot 6/8, Parliamentary Avenue,P.O. Box 7103 Kampala,+256-414 314 268/0414 314 000 Email:ps@mtic.go.ug Copyright ©. All rights reserved. 2017