Uganda and Burundi have hosted their first-ever business roundtable in an effort to strengthen bilateral relations while also encouraging trade.
Judith Nabakooba, Uganda’s Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, represented Uganda’s Minister of Trade, Francis Mwebesa.
Uganda and Burundi have been trading amongst themselves for many years, according to Nabakooba, but only on an informal basis.
“It has usually been done by individuals or businesses who recognized markets for their businesses or sources of goods and services in each other’s countries on their own.”
Over the years, trade relations between Uganda and Burundi have fluctuated. “Depending on the current scenario in the two nations and the region,” Nabakooba remarked, “it sometimes registers tremendous growth and at other times registers deterioration.”
Minister Nabakooba noted that Uganda sold $82 million worth of commodities in 2009, which increased to $92 million in 2012, whereas Burundi imports increased from $0.8 million to $2.8 million between 2009 and 2012, and Uganda’s exports were $50 million in 2021, up from $37.03 million in 2019.
Despite these individual efforts, as well as various impediments, trade between Uganda and Burundi has persisted, according to the ministry.
“This suggests that if both governments take strategic decisions and make concerted efforts, the business might prosper considerably more.” “I am delighted that various business firms from Uganda and Burundi are visible in each other’s markets,” Nabakooba added.
She underlined that Uganda and Burundi had a lot of business potential, with both nations serving as prospective markets and sources of commodities for each other, as well as export to the rest of the globe.
“Both Burundi and Uganda share a border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is a huge market in and of itself. Please take advantage of the recent events in the Democratic Republic of Congo as it enters the East African Community,” Nabakooba said.
“In addition to trade, I beg you to concentrate your efforts on agro-processing, consumer goods, steel, and cement for the construction of both dwellings and infrastructure.” Housing and infrastructure development are still in short supply in both countries.”
She stated that the governments of Burundi and Uganda are completely dedicated to aiding the private sector in growing commercial partnerships between the two countries in order to help ease, identify, and address trade obstacles through the Joint Permanent Commission’s comprehensive agreement (JPC).
“Both nations’ leaders have expressed a strong desire to expand trade and investment links, and governments will do all possible to assist you by building an enabling business environment and addressing infrastructural and bureaucratic hurdles that are still impeding development.”
Minister Nabakooba highlighted that this, together with other considerations including as direct flights from Entebbe to Bujumbula, provide good incentives for trade between the two nations.