Tanzania snubs Uganda’s call for bilateral talks over trade row

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Trucks containing bags of sugar belonging to Uganda's Kakira Sugar Ltd being transported back to Kakira after Tanzania Revenue Authority rejected its entry over non-payment of taxes in August this year. FILE PHOTO | NMG


Tanzania has ignored multiple requests from Uganda for a bilateral meeting to address trade concerns.

Uganda had in September petitioned Tanzania over dipping trade relations on a number of issues that have negatively impacted trade between the two countries.

However, the Daily Monitor has now learnt that Tanzania has since then not responded to multiple requests by Uganda for a bilateral meeting.

Mr Emmanuel Atwine, the senior commercial officer in the ministry of trade, on Thursday revealed that Tanzania was yet to respond despite several attempts by Uganda.
“They did not respond,” he said, during a telephone interview.

"Efforts have also been taken through the embassy of Uganda in Tanzania but all have been futile,” Mr Atwine said.

Address trade concerns

Ms Hadija Nakakande, the trade ministry's public relations manager, had in September confirmed they had sought a meeting with Tanzania to address issues related to exports from Uganda.

The bilateral talks would have given opportunity for both countries to relay their concerns.

Key among the issues, she said, would include resolving the issue of road user fees, which require Ugandan exporters to pay for using Tanzania roads and retesting products that have already been certified by Uganda National Bureau of Standards.

Other issues of concern were the free movement of people and charging for Ugandan traders’ business visas.

Ugandan clearing and forwarding agents have also been raising concerns over the fact that they have been denied an opportunity to open outlets in Tanzania.

Ms Nakakande said the trade ministry would also seek to address the recurring issue that has seen countries raise a red-flag on re-exporting goods imported from other countries.

Tanzania had earlier announced that it would slap Ugandan sugar with a 25 per cent import duty, contrary to the East Africa Common Market Protocol.
Other products that had been denied entry into the country include sweets and other sweeteners that Tanzania claimed are re-exported from other countries.

However, a consensus to allow Uganda export sugar to Tanzania was reached by the two countries, according to a report following the second session of the Joint Permanent Commission meeting held in Kampala in August.

Way forward
Relations between Uganda and Tanzania have for long been sour and multiple efforts have been taken to correct them.

The minister is now planning a visit to Tanzania in a bid to secure a face-to-face meeting.
“They have not yet responded but we are planning on going there ourselves, we even engaged our embassy to talk to them but still no positive response,” he responded explaining that the minister will set the date of travel.