Dr Aggrey Kyobuguzi
The current 'war' between Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and US President Donald Trump that has since sucked in other powerful world leaders belonging to the G7 (UK, Italy, France, Japan, Germany) plus (Canada & US) was caused by MILK.
Aluminum & Steel joined the 'war' after Kabamba!
Canadian Dairy farmers just like their Ugandan counterparts are very influential in National politics. As a result of the influence exerted on Canadian government by Dairy farmers,gvt put trade barriers to protect them against US Dairy farmers.
Canada charges US a 270% tariff on US dairy products in order to protect its farmers. As a result a Canadian farmer earns C$0.79 per litre a US farmer gets C$0.49 per litre of Milk. This is disturbing Trump.
Dairy farmers from Wisconsin (US's equivalent of Kashaari of Uganda in terms of milk production) are closing shop because of Milk over production!. Wisconsin Dairy farmers and other US Dairy farmers are putting Trump administration on pressure to negotiate better markets for their Dairy products.
Ugandan dairy farmers like their Canadian counterparts have considerable influence in national politics. The cattle corridor plus other milk producing villages have a number of policy makers. The question is, why cant our Political Dairy farmers influence policy and stabilise the price of milk? Why should a litre of milk from Bwizibwera-Kashaari, Uganda compete favorably with a litre of milk from Githunguri-Kiambu, Kenya in Kyanja Supermarket? Why should we continue to allow in (Milk from Kenya, Apples from South Africa, Maize from Brazil....) without imposing serious tax to help us boost our tax base rather than taxing social media?
Unlike Canada dairy farmers who translate their numbers and political influence beyond ballot boxes and influence government policies to work their way, Ugandan dairy farmers are meek. They lack the nerve to influence policy and have good policies that favor them.
Of course I am aware that Uganda has signed a number of bi-lateral and multilaterateral trade agreements for example, Uganda is a member of the East African Community (EAC), Common Markets for East and South Africa (COMESA) and the African Union Abuja agreement.
I am also aware that duties and tariffs for countries in these groups are significantly lower than duties for non-members for example as part of the East African Community (EAC), Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, and South Sudan have created an East African Customs Union designed to promote free trade among the six nations but still there are bright ways of gently traversing through the labyrinth.
One way is to take Canada-USA’s example, whereas both Canada and US have enough milk and they have agreements that allow milk products to cross the borders. While Canada chose to put a high tariff on US dairy products, it imports 10% of its dairy products from US, on the other hand, despite US having excess milk, it imports dairy products from Canada only 3% of dairy products from Canada despite having low tariffs.
The arrangement helps to balance the equation and prevent dumping of goods on either side of the border. This is the equation we need to balance with our trade partners.
It is not enough to allow free trade across borders, there must be calculations to know what we want and how tactfully to regulate what we don’t want without causing diplomatic tension. Of course there are a number of questions we must ask ourselves first for example how much do we produce? How much must we import?
Unless we have answers to the two questions above, Uganda will turn into a dumping ground for products from more calculative countries that know what they produce, what they can consume and what they want to dump.
The writer is a livestock development consultant with Kentim University Uganda (Project)