Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives has urged the Ugandan business community that has been conducting business in South Sudan to explore other market in region.
While addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Center yesterday, Amelia Kyambadde said that the South Sudan market has a highly lucrative business destination; traders need to think twice for their sake of their lives when going there because of the risks.
Fresh fighting erupted four days ago in the capital Juba between loyalists of President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the vice president. The two were to lead under a deal to end a two-year civil war that had started towards the end of 2013.
Kyambadde said South Sudan became Uganda's leading export destination in 2008 following the signing of the comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 with the total exports both formal and informal peaking at US$1.18b (sh3.9 trillion) in 2008
However, due to the fighting that broke out in December 2013, sparking off a civil war in the world's youngest nation, there was a steady decline in Uganda's exports from US$414m (sh1.3 trillion) in 2013 to US$385m (sh1.2 trillion) in 2014 and US$353m (sh1.1 trillion) in 2015.
Uganda's leading exports to South Sudan, according to Kyambadde, are cereals, milling products, sugar, iron, cement, steel, and soft drinks, among others.
"Government advises the Ugandan business community to explore other markets that were created through regional integration especially in the East African Community and the Common Market for East and Sothern Africa (COMESA) in the wake of South Sudan Conflict," Kyambadde said in a statement.
She explained that under the EAC bloc, Ugandans can export to other EAC member countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi under the Common Market Protocol.
Under the COMESA, Uganda is implementing the COMESA Free Trade Area which opened up market opportunities in 19 member states that include Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
"The government is monitoring the developments as they unfold in South Sudan and right now, Ugandan traders are advised to exercise caution n in travelling to that country," Kyambadde also said.