The two ministers of Trade and Industry from Uganda (Hon. Amelia Kyambadde) and Kenya (Hon. Adnan Mohammed) have held talks to iron out some of the key issues affecting trade between the two countries. The bilateral meeting took place on the sideways of the ongoing fourteenth Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 14) in Nairobi, Kenya.

Hon. Kyambadde raised three issues including the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs), the Uchumi case in which Ugandan suppliers and workers are demanding for their payments and the Cipla Quality Chemicals Ltd case where Uganda is lobbying Kenya to buy drugs from Quality Chemicals.

On the Uchumi case, Kyambadde told her counterpart Hon. Mohammed that the Kenyan Government needs to fast track the payment of Ugandan traders and former employees of Uchumi Supermarkets in Uganda.

In response, Hon. Mohammed said that the Uchumi case is in the Kenyan Cabinet. He said they had written to Cabinet asking for financial support to help Uchumi restructure and he was hopeful that the money would be released soon. Mohammed says the Uchumi case in Kenya is actually bigger with the company struggling to survive and the same with Nakumatt chains which are also not paying workers.

Hon. Mohammed said the Kenyan Government is doing all what is possible to address the Uchumi matter.

On the issue of Kenya buying HiV and malaria drugs from Quality Chemicals in Uganda, the two countries signed an MoU with Kenya agreeing to buy the drugs from Quality Chemicals, however, his has not been done. Minister Kyambadde asked Kenya to reduce on the importation of the drugs from outside East Africa and buy some of them from Uganda’s Cipla Quality Chemicals which is the largest pharmaceutical company in East Africa. She urged Kenya to demonstrate the spirit of integration and promoting EAC trade by supporting companies within East Africa.

In response Hon. Mohammed said it was true that Kenya agreed to procure drugs from Uganda’s Quality Chemicals and President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the factory in one of his official visits to Uganda. Adnan says they have found challenges in procuring drugs from Quality chemicals with the first being the change of the company name which was not communicated to the Government of Kenya. Quality chemicals changed their name to Cipla Quality Chemicals. Kenya also met challenges with the prices of drugs from Quality Chemicals which were too high and therefore not competitive.

“The drugs from Quality Chemicals were between 25% - 30% above the minimum prices thus rendering their prices uncompetitive”, said Mohammed.

Mohammed however assured Uganda that the matter would be introduced to the Kenyan Cabinet to forge a way forward.

On the EPAs, Kenya and Uganda agreed to fast track the signing of the EPAs and lobby Tanzania to do the same so that EAC can reap from the many years of negotiations spent on the EPAs.

The two ministers also discussed the sugar issues between the two countries and agreed to work together to harmonize them.

END.

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