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We need strong brands to benefit from EAC market

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th July 2010 03:00 AM

AS the East African Community (EAC) common market protocol came into force yesterday the question that most Ugandans are asking is whether the country is ready for it.

AS the East African Community (EAC) common market protocol came into force yesterday the question that most Ugandans are asking is whether the country is ready for it.

By Richard Mubiru

AS the East African Community (EAC) common market protocol came into force yesterday the question that most Ugandans are asking is whether the country is ready for it.

At the economic level, there are indications of readiness seen through the stability and improvements in the economic and monetary policies. However, a few challenges still remain at the enterprise level that need urgent attention.

Ugandan small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are generally uncompetitive and less aggressive compared to their Kenyan counterparts.

This, therefore, calls for urgent improvements in areas like strengthening Ugandan brands and creating investment groups.

The world over, trade has proved to be an efficient engine that delivers economic development. The current policy direction in the developing world is the focus on trade as an important development strategy.

Ugandan policy makers should, therefore, prioritise trade development, by allocating more funds to ensure that the few macro and micro challenges are addressed to create a more conducive business environment.

Therefore, as the regional market grows, we must strategise and position ourselves for this widened market.

One way of achieving this is through adopting an export-led development strategy. This would stimulate an efficient production capacity and would later increase exports.

Export-led growth creates an environment that brings in more revenues in form of foreign currencies. Increased foreign currency in-flow helps to improve the country’s balance of payment position, triggering greater productivity.

Equally, at the enterprise level, high production will have the advantage of a bigger market.

To achieve the above, we would need to revamp the trade policies in the country. Luckily for Uganda, there is no need for a revamp as there is already a drafted National Export Strategy (NES). This strategy aims at achieving a dynamic and competitive export-driven economy for national prosperity.

It further highlights most of the major cross-sectoral challenges and how to address them to have a strong export based economy that will exploit the upcoming common market.

Ugandan SMEs must, therefore, play their part; broaden their scope of operation, by thinking big and coming up with strategies to exploit the regional markets.

Their source of motivation can be through emulating the Chinese SMEs whose activities are focused on exploiting global export opportunities.

Ugandan exporters are faced with inadequate supply and production capacities to meet the growing regional demand.

They also lack modern and competitive business ethics (legalising of business transactions and keeping minimum acceptable discipline), and a generally poor infrastructure development system.

Opportunities for Uganda to benefit from the EAC common market are huge if only we focused our resources on the agricultural sector where it enjoys a comparative advantage.

In addition, being a food basket to the region, gives Uganda a competitive edge to survive the anticipated common market threat.

Also, we must all support the Government’s position on value addition.

The NES was designed to ensure that all agricultural exports are processed, well packaged and meet the required standards.

Let us embrace the EAC common market opportunity and discard all perceived threats. As long as we are focused and doing it right, we shall not only survive, but also benefit from the EAC common market protocol.

The writer is the senior trade promotions officer Uganda Export Promotions Board


We need strong brands to benefit from EAC market

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