By William Madouk Garang
The government of South Sudan and Uganda set to revive a 10-years- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was long signed in 2012 with an aim to improve and promote trade ties between the two sisterly East African countries.
The proposed Cooperation Agreement when reactivated and signed, would allow the two countries to establish a Joint Business Forum, were both business communities of the two nations can meet, interact, and explore investment chances.
The investment areas will cover trade and investment, business, safeguard security along roads, and remove non-tariff barriers to let traders ferry their goods smoothly without any burdens.
The Frist Undersecretary in the Ministry of Trade & Investment, Ocum Genes Karlo said the meeting was a preparatory gathering to revive the MOU that was signed over a decade ago.
“We have agreed to renew the MoU that was signed ten (10) years ago, we have renewed it. It will now be re-drafted – chaired by two parties [Uganda and South Sudan],” Karlo told journalists on Wednesday.
“Once agreed, the two principals – that’s ministry of Trade and Industry of Republic of South Sudan and of Uganda. Once this is signed then we are set [for] rolling of cooperation agreement on trade improvement between the two countries,” he added.
He said the cooperation deal will address sticky issues such as non-trade barriers between the two nations which would permit traders from both sides to carry on their business efficiently.
Meanwhile, the Head of Ugandan Embassy in Juba, Brig-Gen Ronnie Balya said 2013 war has interrupted implementation of the 2012 signed MoU. He said bilateral trade will create job windows and increase revenues for the two.
“Uganda’s exports to South Sudan are between USD 350 -to- USD 400 million, exports from South Sudan to Uganda are between USD 80 and 90 million USD dollars,” Ambassador Balya stated.
Similarly, the ambassador said that bilateral trade and investment has created enormous benefit for both countries including employment creation, market access for Ugandan agricultural and manufactured products and increase revenue for both businesses and the governments.
The Ugandan envoy to South Sudan, stressed that economic chances are high for both traders and investors as business environment is improving, and continues to expand in the young nation.
At the same note, Ambassador Elly Kamahungye said the joint business forum is one of the best, that will bring win-win situation to both people of Uganda and that of South Sudan.
However, the Chief Executive Officer at National Bureau of Standards, Mary Gordon Muortat stated that South Sudan is very attentive to standards and urged both countries to adhere to standards procedures for fair trade.
“We want you to prioritize the standards, and ensure standard is been adhered to by both sides. Standard is not a modern thing it’s a part of our lives because if we don’t have standards our house is subjected to unnecessary health risks and our environment is even damaged before our generation can take over,” Ms. Muortat said.
“There is no business without standards if there is anybody who is business person and don’t know standards, he has to check his books again,” she reiterated.
According to data from Bank of Uganda, during February 2022 Uganda export to South Sudan hit record high with monthly average of $50.6m (Uganda Shilling 182b), which was an increase of more than 21 percent from $39.7m (Shs142b) in January 2022.
The exports were more than what Uganda exported to Kenya during the period, which stood at $46.2m (Shs166.3b). Uganda’s leading export to South Sudan include cereal, maize, vegetable oils, beer, soft drinks iron, steel, cement, and motor vehicle re-export.
Cumulatively, according to the Bank of Uganda report, Uganda’s exports to South Sudan increased to $503.3m (Shs1.8 trillion), for the year ended 2022, from $353.9m (Shs1.2 trillion)for the ended February 2021, which represented a percentage of 33 percent.
South Sudan remain the poorest despite huge fortune and natural resources the country is blessed with, according to FOA the country counts an estimated 12 million cattle, 12.1 million sheep, and 12.4 million goats.
The country has also been hit by severe flooding in the since last year killing livestock, destroying food stocks and damaging crops ahead the harvest season. The country also exports some goods to Uganda such as gold, iron pesticides among others.