By Martin Okumu
Exporters in Uganda were equipped with skills to increase trade with India following training on Duty Free Tariff Preference for Africa (DFTP) led by the International Trade Centre (ITC) at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala, February 24, 2015.
The training focusing on the theme: Taking Advantage of Trading Preferences to India was organised in conjunction with Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UNCCI).
The training workshop was planned as part of the Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA), (http://www.intracen.org/sita/) project, funded by the United Kingdom (UK) and Northern Ireland’s Department for International Development.
SITA shall be launched during the fourth Partnership Platform Meeting in New Delhi, India March 19-20, 2015. This follows a year-long design and identification of sectors and products to start the project. A delegation of 11 Ugandans led by the President of UNCCI, Olive Zaitun Kigongo will attend the SITA launch.
During the implementation of SITA (2015-2020) Uganda exporters will benefit from Government of India’s DFTP Scheme. The scheme offers duty-free market access to exports from least developed countries on 98% of Indian tariff lines.
It was established that despite a long history of economic relations between the two countries, India remains an insignificant destination for Uganda’s exports, absorbing less than 1% of the country’s total exports in 2012. The Indian DFTP scheme can become a game changer, offering Ugandan exporters a competitive edge in accessing the Indian market.
There is need for technical assistance from India to Uganda in areas of agriculture mechanization, manufacture, technology transfer, finance and insurance to fully benefit from demand for intermediate products by Indian companies.
Indian businesses will partner by providing technology, skills know-how and investment to build the capacity of exporters in Uganda for value addition of priority sectors such as: cotton, oil seeds, coffee, vegetables, fruits, pulses and business process outsourcing.
During the training workshop in Kampala participants pinpointed key needs, including raising awareness of the DFTP Scheme, addressing trade obstacles, increasing investment and building supply side capacity.
“There is little awareness of the DFTP Scheme among Ugandan exporters,” said Martin Okumu, the Head of Communications Department at UNCCI.
He added that supply side factors such as: production, processing, storage and transport also undermine Uganda’s export competitiveness.
“Tanzania’s recent efforts to raise awareness amongst the business community have led to increased export under the DFTP,” said Adam Zuku, the Director of Industry Development at the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Awareness of the DFTP Scheme is also needed among India’s private sector, according to Pranav Kumar, the Head of International Policy and Trade at the Confederation of Indian Industry. Kumar also said that Indian private companies need to better understand how to source products from trading partners that are less familiar to them.
ITC surveys presented at a December meeting in Addis Ababa showed that the SITA East African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania face major problems with non-tariff measures and procedural obstacles, especially when it comes to licensing, permits to export, inspections, certificates and taxes.
It was recommended during the training that: there is need to reduce incidences of procedural and regulatory obstacles to trade; the government and business community should work together to raise awareness of the DFTP Scheme to exporters; identify key areas of intervention for Uganda to increase exports; and support production capacity, value addition, storage, transport and trade facilitation.
These recommendations are in line with the goal of the SITA project, which is for enterprises to enhance their competitiveness to produce goods that match overseas market requirements in India and beyond, said Andrew Huelin, ITC representative at the meeting.
The writer is the Head of Communication Department of the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UNCCI)