VP ALUPO TELLS COMESA SUMMIT THAT 57% OF UGANDA’S EXPORTS NOW GO TO COMESA FETCHING OVER USD2.4BN
Vice President Maj. Jessica Alupo has revealed that the Common Market for East and Southern Africa [COMESA] has once again become Uganda’s number one export destination.
She says two years ago, the trade bloc regained its position as the country’s number one export destination fetching USD2435.81 million last year compared to USD2006.19 million in 2018, an increase of 21%.
Alupo says overall COMESA contributes 57% to Uganda’s global exports.
The Vice President made the remarks during the 22nd COMESA Heads of State Summit held yesterday in Lusaka-Zambia. The summit held under the theme: “Economic Integration for a thriving COMESA anchored on green investment, value addition, and tourism”, was attended by COMESA chairperson also president of Egypt Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, H.E Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia and incoming Chairperson of COMESA Authority, The Secretary General of COMESA, H.E Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe, African Union Commission chairperson H.E Mousa Faki Mahamat among other leaders.
She said Uganda appreciates the contribution of COMESA programs and facilitation instruments in the growth of the Intra-COMESA Trade; thanks to substantial tariff reductions, removal of Non-Tariff Barriers and the improvement of customs related services, Single Window Systems and digitization of trade investments, e-certificates of Origin, e-logistics and e-legislation.
Alupo said that in 2000, Intra-COMESA Trade was 2.2billion but has since increased to 13bn in the last 20years representing an increase of 490%.
“However, this remains low compared to COMESA exports to the rest of the world which equally registered a significant increase of 56% from 100 billion in 2020 to 156 billion in 2021” she noted.
She revealed that Uganda with support from COMESA, is currently implementing the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) framework, Entebbe Diary Training School, installation of cold chain infrastructure and equipment of Diary Development Authority with milk coolers which she said have reduced post-harvest losses.
“Allow me to mention that under regional payment and settlement system, a COMESA electronic platform since October 2014 to 1st June 2023, Uganda has had 3499 transactions worth USD123,704,263 and 31 transactions worth Euros 1,135,889” she revealed.
She said in spite of the challenges presented by COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters and international conflicts, African economies are steadily recovering but called for continued cooperation to achieve sustainable development.
Alupo noted that the continent has made remarkable progress in the field of socio-economic wellbeing of her people, education, health, energy, improved household incomes, joint infrastructure projects, among others.
She attributed this to regional blocs such as the COMESA Framework which is linked to regional initiatives that include the East African Community EAC, SADC (TRIPARTITE Free Trade Area) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“The common objective is to contribute to the broader objectives of accelerating economic integration and social economic transformation of Africa” she told the summit, but however, noted that fragmented markets and non-tariff barriers are still major bottlenecks to trade and regional integration.
The vice president emphasized that AfCFTA is critical in addressing these barriers and therefore commended the heads of state for their efforts to implement the provisions of the AfCFTA Agreement.
She said Africa with a population of 1.373 billion people and a continent with the largest arable land of 874 million hectares, should strive to make the best use of her resources both natural and human. Alupo said the abundant demographic dividends are important to promote green investment, value addition and tourism.
PEACE AND SECURITY
On Peace and Security, Alupo said the COMESA region is relatively peaceful, despite pockets of instability, terrorism and conflicts, particularly in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa that call for their attention.
She said a number of initiatives that have been undertaken to address these conflicts for example the Burundi Peace Process need to be supported.
“Peace and Security are pre-requisites for the prosperity of any region thus COMESA programs and trade facilitation instruments can only be realized when there is sustained peace and the East African Regional Force in the DRC. We therefore, call for concerted efforts in seeking regional solutions to regional problems” she said adding that Uganda remains committed to these Regional Peace and security initiatives and reaching amicable resolutions to these conflicts.
The Vice President also addressed the meeting on this matter. She said Africa is the least responsible for the global climate crisis yet is the most affected by its effects.
She said the continent only contributes less than 4% of the C0₂, compared to 27% from China, 15% from US and 17% from EU. She said Africa is the most affected continent by the adverse effects of climate change including rising sea levels, melting glaciers and extreme weather conditions.
“It is therefore critical that we work together in mitigating effects of climate change without losing the right to development” she said and extended President Museveni’s commitment to the regional agenda as enshrined in the COMESA Treaty.