Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, the chairman Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita), Mr Everest Kayondo, said South Sudan, a key export market for Uganda, has for the last five days alone been depriving its members and affiliate organisations an opportunity to transact business worth at least Shs3.3 billion a day.
“Our calculation indicates that each time there is such a massive interruption on our businesses in South Sudan, we lose about a million US dollars a day. So each single day our businesses are interrupted, as a country we lose an opportunity to make at least a million US dollars,” Mr Kayondo said.
He continued: “If things continue this way, it will not be long before the economy begins to feel the pinch. However, just like the government has said, we don’t encourage our members to continue trading in South Sudan until stability is restored.”
Evacuation plans from South Sudan
In a news conference on Monday at the government media centre in Kampala, Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde, while talking about the status of Uganda’s traders in South Sudan in the wake of the renewed fighting, said about 30 trucks will be dispatched to evacuate Ugandans caught up in the conflict.
“The Juba airport is still closed and the main road to Nimule is also closed. However, security has gone in to clear the road and send in 30 trucks that are going to evacuate Ugandans through the eastern route of South Sudan,” she said.
Leading export destination
Just three years later (in 2008), total exports (both formal and informal) peaked at $1.18 billion (nearly Shs4 trillion). About five years down the road, the gains were quickly eroded as the environment quickly degenerated into chaos.
“However, the fighting that broke out in December 2013, sparking off a civil war in South Sudan, caused a steady decrease in Uganda’s exports from $414m (Shs1.3 trillion) in 2013, to $385m (Shs1.2 trillion) in 2014 and $353m (Shs1.1 trillion) in 2015,” said Ms Kyambadde.
Uganda’s leading exports to South Sudan are cereals, milling products (maize floor, wheat flour), sugar, iron and steel, cement, beers and soft drinks, motor vehicle re-exports, vegetable oils and soap lubricants.
For the meantime, the government not only want the traders to cut their losses in the troubled country despite the two warring principals, president Salva Kiir and his first vice president Riek Machar, calling for cessation of hostility, but also consider doing business elsewhere.
According to Ms Kyambadde, government’s advice to the Ugandan business community is to explore other market opportunities created through regional integration especially in East African Community (EAC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).
And under Comesa, Uganda is implementing the Free Trade Area which opened up market opportunities in 19 member states including the neighbouring DR Congo where there is a huge market for Ugandan products.
BOU breaks down the impact of the war
Consequently, for the 12 months to May 2016, Uganda’s exports to South Sudan had declined by 31 per cent from $423.6 million (about Shs1.4 trillion) in the 12 months to May 2015 to $290.8 million (about Shs981 billion) in the 12 months to May 2016.
Source: Bank of Uganda
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