Uganda and Kenya are enjoying tremendous trade growth thanks to the progress in the integration of the East African Community (EAC), Kenya’s Deputy President William Samoei Ruto has said.
Ruto was speaking at a meeting by the Africa Strategic Leadership Centre at the Kampala Serena Hotel Sunday morning. The meeting that brought together government officials, business leaders, trade and manufacturing bodies representatives among others was under the theme; ‘The Future of East Africa: Talking Regional Integration, Economy and Trade.’
“We have seen the strategic leadership of both Kenya and Uganda in driving the integration of not just East Africa but our Continent. When we moved into the EAC in 1999, it was a huge leap of faith. Because having experienced what happened with the initial EAC, we went into a huge step of a Customs Union and so much has happened in the last ten years,” Ruto stated.
He added that there is tremendous progress in the relations between Uganda and Kenya citing people to people relations, business to business and government to government. According to Ruto, trade between both countries has doubled, from about 48 billion Kenya Shillings to over 104 billion Kenya Shillings in the last 10 years.
“We have seen trade grow tremendously. In this period, Uganda became Kenya’s leading export destination and Kenya also became a leading destination of exports from Uganda. And I am told that the last four months of this year, Uganda has overtaken Kenya in exports.”
He says that this demonstrates that the decision to do business together is mutually beneficial.
Ruto, however, said that this is not something to make the Community comfortable since there is a need for a much fast progress.
But he cautioned that there still exists a wave of protectionism adding that the African continent must now look at the bloc that gives Africa power to negotiate and have its own share of trade. He said that Africa is better off sharing the wealth, than protecting poverty. Ruto said that working will help create more opportunities for the youth and eliminate poverty.
The Kenya Deputy President wondered how the European Union (EU) put together 27 countries with a billion people to negotiate as one and Africa still finds it difficult.
Trade Minister, Amelia Kyambadde said that the East African Community (EAC) countries need to reduce trade barriers and also have a comparative advantage in what they produce on order for the benefits of integration to increase.