Dar, Kampala to bolster trade ties in wake of BRICS summit

10Aug 2018
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Dar, Kampala to bolster trade ties in wake of BRICS summit
  • Presidents Magufuli and Museveni agree that the industries of both countries need more protection from illegal imports of commodities like sugar

PRESIDENT John Magufuli and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni yesterday agreed to work together to strengthen bilateral trade ties, protect industries in both countries, and curb illegal imports of key commodities into East African Community (EAC) member states.

President John Magufuli and his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni, at State House grounds in Dar es Salaam yesterday shortly after addressing a joint news conference. Photo: State House

Speaking after holding talks at State House in Dar es Salaam during a quick visit by Museveni to the country, the two leaders said both countries will focus on investing more in the improvement and facilitation of trade activities designed to stimulate development growth.

Museveni made his one-day official state visit to Tanzania to convey the report of the Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) summit held recently in South Africa on how to get more investors from varous parts in the world to grab the growing number of opportnuties available in East Africa.

According to President Magufuli: “The illegal importation of sugar is too high and this affects both Tanzania and Uganda, so we need to join forces to stop this and rescue our countries from being dumpsites of such types of illegally traded commodities.”

Saying he had information that at least 20 trucks carrying sugar enter Tanzania through the Sirari border post every day, Magufuli said the “improper sugar imports” don’t only affect local industries, but local employment as well.

“If we are really serious about realising our industrialisation agendas, we have to fight this challenge... initial steps have been taken and the ministers responsible for industries and trade from both our countries have already met and discussed this in detail,” he stated.

On his part, Museveni said the two countries are eager to boost trade and investment in various sectors including energy, infrastructure, and oil and gas.

He commended Tanzania for launching a more reliable cargo service to Uganda through the Lake Victoria ports of Mwanza and Port Bell. The port of Dar es Salaam in connected to Uganda by train, through Tabora and Isaka in western Tanzania, up to Mwanza, and then by ship across the lake to Port Bell.

Museveni described the re-opening of the rail-lake-rail corridor on Lake Victoria as a major move that will surely improve cargo movements to and from Dar es Salaam to Uganda.

“Transporting cargo by road (trucks) is three times more costly than using rail transport,” he pointed out.

The central corridor was closed over 10 years ago following a cargo vessels accident in Lake Victoria. In the early hours of May 8, 2005, the MV Kaawa and MV Kabalega marine vessels collided on the lake while transporting goods to and from Tanzania.

According to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the re-opening of the route reduces cargo transit time by over 50 per cent and transit costs by 40 percent, meaning that WFP can get food more quickly to those in need in neighbouring, landlocked countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

WFP national logistics officer Mahamud Mabuyu told The Guardian in a recent interview that the route also reduces congestion of trucks at the ports and along the highway, as well as pollution to the environment.

“Following the revival of the route, transit time has been reduced from ten to four days from Dar es Salaam to the needy ones in Uganda and other landlocked countries,” Mabuyu said.

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