The East Africa trade mission, which is organized by the Sharjah Exports Development Center that is considered to be a part of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), will conclude its three-day visit to the Ugandan capital of Kampala on Tuesday before moving on the next day to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi as part of its African tour, which is being organized for the third year in a row.
The trade mission, which was organized by the SCCI, in cooperation with the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Abu Dhabi and the Saudi Export Development Authority, participated in the "UAE-KSA-Uganda Trade & Investment Conference." The event was attended by more than 60 businessmen and investors from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. A large number of Ugandan government officials, businessmen and investors also participated in the event.
The trade mission, led by His Excellency Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, Chairman of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), reinforced its network of relations with the Ugandan business community at the Trade and Investment Conference, where it held a number of official meetings, as well as bilateral and group business meetings between the members of the mission and their Ugandan counterparts. The Conference was organized by the Sharjah Chamber in cooperation with the Federation of Uganda Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Uganda Investment Authority.
The Sharjah Chamber signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at consolidating the levels of trade exchange, investment and joint ventures between the business communities of both countries. The memorandum included the coordination of efforts to promote mutual investments and opportunities in various economic sectors, as well as the exchange of information and expertise. The memorandum also included joint action to overcome the challenges facing investors and businessmen.
Al Owais discussed ways to strengthen the economic relations between Uganda and the UAE in general and with the Emirate of Sharjah in particular, with a number of ministers and heads of economic and investment organizations in Uganda, such as His Excellency Matia Kasaija, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Republic of Uganda, and Jolly Kamugira Kaguhangire, the Executive Director of the Uganda Investment Authority. He also stated that strengthening these economic relations leads to raising the rates of trade exchange and establishing new and promising investment partnerships between the two sides.
The Ugandan officials highlighted the strength of the relations between Uganda and the UAE, especially after the recent visit of His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, to the UAE in November. The president, who led a high-level official government delegation during the visit, met with the leadership of the UAE, which created a new impetus for the relations between the two countries and momentum to further strengthen cooperation at all levels.
HE Abdullah Al Owais, Chairman of Sharjah Chamber said that the trade mission was organized by Sharjah Exports Development Center in cooperation with Department of Economic Development Abu Dhabi and Saudi Exports Development Authority. The goal is to strengthen economic relations between the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Uganda in the framework of common endeavors to raise the rates of trade exchange and establish promising investment partnerships between these countries as well as contributing to the development of fields of mutual cooperation.
He also stated that the organization of this mission comes within the efforts of Sharjah Chamber aimed at developing economic relations between the UAE and Uganda in general and particularly between Sharjah and Uganda. The mission is a continuation of numerous previous visits organized by the Chamber during the last few years with the aim of enhancing relations between both countries at various levels and business fields. He pointed out that the volume of exports and re-exports between Sharjah and Uganda have risen during 2017 compared to 2016, according to statistics and data of the Chamber.
Al Owais pointed to the special advantages enjoyed by the UAE and Saudi products and their positive competitiveness in terms of diversity, quality, high specifications and prices. He also called on the officials participating in the forum to work together to provide a database of opportunities, fields of investment, export as well as facilitating the establishment of exhibitions and forums that support the business communities in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Uganda. The aim is to increase the number of programs to send exchange visits and benefit from the incentives, investment guarantees and protection, in addition to activating channels of communication between private sector enterprises and the adoption of transparency in addressing challenges.
HE Abdullah Mohammed Al Takawi, UAE Ambassador to Uganda, stressed the keenness of the UAE and Saudi Arabia to enhance economic and trade relations with Africa and particularly with Uganda, Given the potential for significant growth in many sectors of common interest especially agriculture and food industries.
Al Takawi stated that relations between the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Uganda have developed significantly in the past few years and are witnessing increase in growth and continuous development especially in signings of a number of bilateral joint agreements, all of which are in the interest of businessmen and investors, namely the bilateral air services agreement, the double taxation agreement and the investment protection and development agreement.
Mishary Al Khayat, representative of Saudi Exports Development Authority said that participating in this important event opens up new opportunities for communication with the business community in Africa and give us an invaluable opportunity to get a closer look at the needs of clients and consumers in Uganda, as well as paving the way for extensive trade relations with our trading partners to bring us face to face with our African customers.
Al Khayat added, Saudi Arabia offers growing opportunities for significant trade and economic partnerships with Uganda and raises the terms of trade between both countries and their traders, investors and citizens. The Saudi economy is the largest in the Middle East with a gross domestic product of about 2.4 trillion Saudi Riyals. He pointed to the Kingdom’s eagerness to facilitate the flow of goods and increase the link with Africa through future projects to connect land with it through Egypt, by working to secure a smooth logistical and commercial communication, in which Saudi Arabia is a major center for international trade.
A number of Ugandan officials encouraged the UAE and Saudi business communities to invest in different fields such as in the infrastructure of energy, agricultural and mining sectors since Uganda is considered to be rich in many mineral elements. Several topographic and aerial surveys have revealed 18 areas that include iron, aluminium, precious metals, copper, uranium, phosphates and others to be explored by investors.
They also pointed out that their government is very proud to develop these resources in partnership with the private sector in accordance with the decree that was issued in 2003, which allows joint ventures in mining investment, especially in the presence of more than 200 million tons of iron as proven reserves, 88% is available in western Uganda. In addition to 100 million tons of iron oxide that was discovered in the southeast.
Uganda has enjoyed strategic economic relations with the Middle East during the last three years, in which Ugandan exports have increased from 64 million dollars to 440 million dollars and the UAE leading 92.2%. Uganda’s imports from the UAE were worth 404 million dollars by the end of 2016.
The organization of the UAE-Saudi mission is part of the joint efforts to achieve economic integration between the two countries and to translate the growing bilateral relations between them, in line with the Chamber’s eagerness to support the business communities in the UAE and Saudi Arabia to promote the export of their products and discover new markets to that contributes to expand their business in Africa.
The mission included representatives of Expo Centre Sharjah, as part of the centre’s keenness to promote cultural, economic and tourism activities and events which are organized by the centre throughout the year, as well as enhancing the Emirate’s reputation and position on a regional and international level.
The mission took trips to many markets, factories and government bodies in Uganda and was accompanied by a large media delegation representing media sectors of the UAE and Saudi Arabia.