Ugandan Minister of State for East African Community Affairs Julius Maganda has assured Kenya cross border traders that Uganda will remain a committed trading partner contrary to those who think to the contrary.
Speaking during the official launch on cross border collaboration in Busia Uganda on Thursday, the Minister said Kenya provides the largest market for Uganda, adding that over 70 per cent of Ugandan exports are destined to Kenya.
‘’We trade more than $160b (Ksh160trillion) around the region but $67b (Ksh6.7trillion) is exported to Kenya and Kenya makes the mother of the biggest market for Uganda with 100 per cent of our trade is to Kenya.
I want give an assurance to Uganda Busia cross border traders that you will do trade with Uganda. Nobody will remove you from doing trade with Uganda. We have made these regulations purposely to facilitate trade. Our presidents have mentioned that you are free to come to Uganda, settle in Uganda, marry in Uganda, even buy land and have right of residence,’’ he said.
He told fellow Ugandans to engage and attract their Kenyan brothers to come and do business with them, adding that whoever have problems, member states have channels of conflict resolution where RDC is the lead in handlings such challenges before they explode.
Maganda cautioned traders using porous borders to smuggle illegal goods that they will face the full force of the law. Single certificate of origin has been introduced for traders who wish to import goods from members’ states worth $200 (Ksh200,000). One stop border posts are meant to expedite free movement of goods and services across the border.
The Minster said despite the achievements, the region continues to face some common cross border threats including terrorism, human trafficking, smuggling of immigrants, illegal immigration, counterfeiting, drug trafficking, crude spirits and piracy, proliferation of small arms and weapons and cattle rustling among others.
He said the introduction of the scanner to check goods which are on transit will not only lessen on time spent by traders but it will also detect illegal goods stashed in the trucks.
Busia County Executive Committee Member for Trade and Cooperatives Judith Maketso said EAC framework on cross border security is a welcome move aimed at promotion of peace, security and stability among border communities and to promote good neighborliness.
She said the county government will support any initiative that will make Kenyan traders do their businesses without hitches. She singled out traders who are conned their money by unscrupulous money changers terming it unfortunate.