Museveni to Rwanda Blocking bilateral trade is suicidal and a childish move to frustrate business

President Yoweri Museveni has urged East African Community to embrace free movement goods between nations. Speaking to the African News Journal at the sidelines of the Africa Now Conference in Munyonyo, Museveni called upon East Africa countries to impose taxes on goods from outside the EAC that are similar to those produced locally to enable the economies to thrive.
He stated that trade between nations ensures their survival.
“East Africa needs to help us in this by imposing taxes on similar products coming from outside the EAC. Therefore, the free movement of goods and services is a matter of survival for Uganda, East Africa and Africa”, he stated.
He noted that in 1986, Kenya was exporting goods worth $200m to Uganda while Uganda only exported goods worth $12m. He revealed that some Ugandan leaders proposed the blockage of Kenyan goods to the Uganda market but he rejected the idea.
“In 1986, Kenya was exporting to Uganda goods worth US$200m. Uganda was only exporting to Kenya goods worth US$12m. Some of the Ugandan leaders started talking of blocking Kenyan goods. I rejected that line because it is suicidal for Africa”, he stated.
President Museveni’s remarks could be perceived as a veiled message to Rwandan authorities.
Uganda exports to Rwanda $238 million (10.48 percent of exports), while Rwanda exports $16m to Uganda, World Bank stats, 2015 state. Uganda currently exports to Kenya $427m (18.84 percent of exports) making it Uganda’s biggest market in the region.
According to Foreign Affairs Minister, Sam Kutesa in a statement released today, Rwanda has blocked bilateral trade with Uganda. Rwanda has blocked its border with Uganda since February 28.
However, Museveni noted that bilateral trade will give East Africa nations leverage on the world market.
“Supporting one another’s prosperity by buying one another’s goods and services is the correct way. With our united market, we can, then, approach third parties such as the USA, China, India, etc., for additional market access to their markets, just like they have been selling in our markets for centuries”, he added.
He advised leaders to deal with barriers that impede free movement of goods and services. He also warned governments against ‘operating behind the back of host countries’.
“On the issue of the free movement of people, our party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), supports the total free movement of Africans in Africa. We only need to advise on two things in this respect. All Africans that are to enjoy that facility should be biometrically registered just for the sake of security. Secondly, all governments to undertake by treaty never to use that freedom of movement of people, never to ever operate behind the back of the host countries. The freedom of movement of people should only be for the transparent activities of trade and for nothing else”, he added.

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