Uganda is sending a delegation of business persons to Italy as one of the initiatives to strengthen the trade relations between the two countries and open up more market opportunities for Uganda products. This was disclosed during a meeting between the Minister of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives Hon. Amelia Kyambadde and the Italian Ambassador to Uganda H.E Domenico Fornara on to discuss bilateral trade relations between Uganda and Italy.

 

Kyambadde said the Ugandan Business Delegation will be leaving for Italy early next year, to explore more opportunities especially in terms of market access and joint ventures in the area of value addition. The delegation will also engage and interact with Italian associations and the general Italian business community to foster bilateral trade and devise avenues for market outreach and investment.

Italy is the 8th largest export economy in the world and the 22nd most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI), and possesses a comparative advantage in machinery, automobiles, electrical and electronic equipment, pharmaceuticals and plastics.

Although the value of the Italian direct investments (joint ventures, investments and acquisitions) in Uganda is still limited, Uganda’s political and economic indicators are very good, considered ideal for investment for the Italian companies. The trade exchange between Italy and Uganda is growing steadily; in 2014 it increased by more than 18% as compared to 2013, and in 2015 by more than 23% as compared to 2014. In 2015 Uganda’s exports to Italy stood at US$101 Million compared to US$ 98.5 Million in 2014.

Uganda imports less from Italy amounting to a third of what she exports. Uganda’s imports to Italy stood at US$31.3 Million in 2015 representing a reduction from US$ 37.4 Million in 2014. This is in great contrast with the balance of trade with the European Union from which Uganda imports a lot more than she exports.

Kyambadde and Amb. Fornara noted some sectors that provide great opportunities for improvement in the bilateral business collaboration including renewable energy, tourism, automotive, textile, leather, packaging, pharmaceuticals and infrastructure development.

Kyambadde highlighted the need for support from Italy in value chain cold storage and marine transport infrastructure in Uganda. She said the two areas have a lot of potential for investment and development and have so far gone untapped and/or underutilized. She said storage infrastructure, particularly, could be a very lucrative investment opportunity as Uganda is predominantly engaged in agriculture and crop farming which provides a steady market and guarantees a handsome return on Investment.

Micro Medium and Small Enterprises (MSMEs) support and development were also identified as a great avenue for engagement, especially through the cooperative movement which is very strong in Italy.

Amb. Fornara told Kyambadde that there is need for Uganda to identify the priority sectors for engagement and trade with Italy. The two agreed that the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives will develop a concept paper, by August or September 2016, detailing the prime sectors for Italian investment and the best commodities for enhancement of bilateral trade. The concept paper will be presented to the Italian Government and thereafter, an Italian mission would also be sent to Uganda for practical on-ground assessment of the investment potential and capabilities, and to interact more with the Ugandan business community.

The two also discussed the implications of the exit of Britain from the European Union (EU) and how it would affect the bloc’s trade balance and particularly trade with Italy and the other 26 remaining countries in the EU.

There is, currently, a vibrant Italian Business community in Uganda doing private business in agro-processing, construction and infrastructure development. They have, in conjunction with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, organized an Italia–Uganda Business Club meeting in September this year to explore business linkages and enhance trade between the two countries.

END

 Uganda Export Promotion Board Uganda Warehouse Receipt System Authority Management Training and Advisory Centre Uganda National Bureau of Standards Uganda Industrial Research Institute