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Museveni asks EU to address non-trade barriers in partnership with Uganda


President Museveni and EU deputy director for international partnerships Marriam Ferran

President Museveni and EU deputy director for international partnerships Marriam Ferran

KAMPALA – President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has advised the European Union (EU) to address non-tariff barriers, saying it’s wrong to mix politics with business.

“The non-trade barrier created by wrong politics where people mix politics with business, you need to advise governments in Europe to get out of that mistake, because there is no way you can control the world politically,” Museveni advised.

The Ugandan president made the remarks on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, at the 3rd Uganda-European Union Business Forum 2024, at Speke Resort Munyonyo. The three-day forum which started on Tuesday, is running under the theme: “Boosting Trade and Investment”.

Museveni explained to the participants that a business is an enterprise that makes profits and that the higher the profits the better.

“Therefore when you are talking about businesses, you should look at the level of profitability of businesses in this part of the world compared to Europe, Asia and other investment destinations,” Museveni expounded.

He also said that for a business to make profits, it must have three elements which include, the production of a good or service, a consumer who has got the ability to pay for a good or service and the infrastructure which links the producer of the goods and services to a consumer which is transport and communication.

He urged the European Union to ensure that they engage in a serious dialogue with Africa to create more business opportunities among both parties.

On the other hand, President Museveni warned against exploitation and unfair division of labour by the western powers.

“One of the disablers of business has been (but it’s changing a bit now), the unfair division of labour in the world where Africa and some of the other places like Latin America produce raw materials and then the raw materials are taken to Europe and processed there into finished products. This is very dangerous. When you hear the chaos in some African countries now, the original problem is this one here. Those areas have got a lot of natural resources, but they have been exporting raw materials,” he said.

“When you are exporting a raw material, like I will take an example of coffee. If you check your internet, you will see that the global value of coffee now is about 460 billion dollars. However, all the coffee producing countries in the world like Brazil, Uganda, share 25 billion dollars from the 460 billion dollars.  From the 25 billion dollars, Africa shares 2.5 billion dollars and Uganda takes 900 million dollars. And why this? It is because, very good quality coffee, a kilogram is 2.5 dollars, when somebody adds value to it, he gets 40 dollars in Europe. So, I’m losing value of money but also losing jobs because the coffee value chain like the roasting, grinding, packaging are all job levels which are taken out.”

President Museveni also called upon the European Union countries to promote global Affluence in order to enable the success of businesses in the world.

“When the Chinese started building and getting out of poverty, a tonne of steel jumped from USD200 to USD900. It has now come down to about USD700. We are building steel industries now because the movement of the Chinese from straw-thatched shelters to permanent buildings has meant that the price of steel, cement, copper and all products went up because of the movement from poverty to affluence in China,” he explained.

“You as business people, you can pursue business but the political actors in Europe and all of us need to know that global affluence will give good business to everybody in the world,” he added.

President Museveni further welcomed the European companies to invest in Uganda, saying it is very necessary for both Uganda and European companies.

“Europeans investing here is common sense and strategic,” the President emphasised.

H.E Jan Sadek, the Ambassador of the European Union to Uganda said that the East African country and European Union companies have a lot to offer in this trade forum because both have several trade opportunities.

Hon. John Mulimba, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of Regional Affairs thanked President Museveni for attending the forum and for always guiding them in the right direction.

Hon. Mulimba also expressed the need for dialogue between Ugandan agribusinesses and the European companies about quality assurance.

Hon. Evelyn Anite, the Minister of State for Investment and Privatization thanked President Museveni for gracing the forum and assured that Uganda is now in the take off stage, ready to embrace all favourable investment opportunities from European companies.

At the forum, a number of agreements were signed to boost investment opportunities between Uganda and European companies.

The initiatives include among others; Green and Decent Jobs for Youth we Work at Euro 50m and the project aims to enhance the employability of vulnerable youth, including young women, as well as their access to green and decent employment.

Advancing Respect for Business and Human Rights (ARBHR) in Uganda at Euro 5m. The aim is to contribute to the reduction of Human Rights abuse, particularly those impacting women, in business activities in Uganda. The project supports the development.

The support to the Agricultural Revitalization and Transformation facility at Euro 11.5m. This initiative aims to boost value addition and agro-processing by unlocking affordable medium-midterm financing to agribusiness SMEs in Uganda.

Women Entrepreneur for Africa Programme within the Team Europe initiative investing in Young Businesses in Africa.

European Investment Bank (EIB) loan to Centenary Bank. The project relates to online lending of Euro 50m to micro-entrepreneurs and micro enterprises with a focus on female borrowers (50%) and clients in rural areas (60%).

EIB Loan to Housing Finance Bank at Euro 25m. This loan aims at providing financing to Housing Finance Bank-HFB for onward lending to a number of private sector entities, mostly small and medium enterprises with a particular focus on eligible businesses run by and or managed by women.

EIB loan to Towerco of Africa-Uganda at Euro 25m. The global gateway project supports the construction of 675 new mobile towers in Uganda. aBI-Green and inclusive growth in Uganda’s agri-food systems at Euro 12m.

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