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Uganda Joins COMESA FTA

Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

27 November 2012

The Ugandan government has approved a recommendation by its Minister for Trade, Amelia Kyambadde, to join the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Free Trade Area (COMESA FTA).

The decision comes at a time when Uganda, which is already a COMESA member, has assumed the COMESA chair for the next year. This will make Uganda the 15th FTA member in the 19 strong organization.

Kyambadde estimates that accession to COMESA will result in a 50% average annual growth in the value of exports. The minister said that over the last five years COMESA has on average provided a market for 57% of the value of Uganda's exports, earning the country an average of USD1.3bn in export revenues per annum.

Economists and business leaders have welcomed the move saying it will increase the volume of Ugandan exports to the COMESA FTA and promote the country's economic growth.

It is thought that Agro-export products and construction will be the immediate beneficiaries, especially in the Great Lakes region because of Uganda's proximity to the neighboring markets of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

Outgoing Chairperson of the Uganda Business Forum, Gerald Sendaula, noted at the recent COMESA Business Council Forum in Kampala that: “The principle of reciprocity means that our goods would attract the same charges in other COMESA markets but after joining the FTA, we believe that this will deepen our participation in COMESA which has become the most important trade destination and source of investment."

COMESA had a population of 467.6 million as of July 2011 and a combined GDP of USD799.2bn in 2010. The 15 COMESA FTA states will now be Uganda, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Mauritius, Comoros, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Djibouti, Madagascar, Swaziland and Malawi.

TAGS: business | Djibouti | Mauritius | Swaziland | Zimbabwe | law | tariffs | Comoros | Libya | Madagascar | Malawi | Sudan | Egypt | Kenya | Rwanda | Uganda | Zambia | construction | trade | Burundi | free trade zone

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