We were joined by the Executive Director Uganda Export Promotion Board who was happy to share with us two key subject areas: Connecting SMEs to international value chains and the role of the diaspora in export promotion.
He stated that trade between Great Britain and Uganda has been declining since 2010 from USD 164 million to USD 82 million in 2018, yet there are opportunities for increasing exports to UK and other parts of the world.
Uganda has a lot of opportunities in production and export of Fruits & vegetables (with value addition), value added livestock/ dairy products, tea, coffee, cosmetics (shear nut products), Fish fillets, cut flowers, Iron & steel products alongside services like tourism, ICT and other professional services.
However, like any other developing country we do have challenges around standards and quality assurance as we try to penetrate the global value chains. These are real issues influencing our trade with UK and other key markets therefore we need to address them to grow the Ugandan economy. He accentuated by saying, the more we export the more the jobs, the more foreign exchange earned, and taxes paid to grow our revenue.
Among the things that he shared to address some of these challenges were
- The importance of collaboration and sharing of roles,
- commercial diplomacy,
- undertaking market studies and trade promotion events to showcase Ugandan products and services,
- B2B matchmaking and
- supporting digital marketing
And above all starting a discussion with diaspora where he mentioned that UEPB started a capacity building programme for Mission staff to market Uganda.
He desired to mention that with the support from Sir Lord Dolar Popat, United Kingdom High Commission to Uganda and The Uganda High Commission to United Kingdom, discussions with the big chain stores in town have started (Sainsbury; Tesco; others.) in order to open opportunities for Uganda exports.
He applauded the good relationship between the Uganda government and the people of United Kingdom and urged the Ugandan diaspora to continue with the big role they do in marketing Uganda and Ugandan brands.
“You know UK well, please promote Uganda, its products, and services. You can enhance export promotion as the producers of exportable products, final consumers, buyers and sellers as well as promoters’’.
As the Executive Director concluded, he called all Ugandans to work together in enhancing Uganda’s economic growth and development. It matters to us all.