29th July , 2016
The Uganda Free Zones Authority (UFZA) and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) through which they will increase Uganda’s exports through improved standards.
Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony at the UFZA’s offices at Communications House in Kampala yesterday, Richard Jabo, the UFZA executive director, noted that one of the key issues that has to be addressed if the country is to expand its manufacturing sector and increase its export bill is the improvement of standards.
He explained that Uganda’s products are facing tough competition on the international market and this necessitates improvement in product standards to enable them compete favorably and reduce on the trade imbalances.
According to figures from the National Planning Authority (NPA), Uganda’s overall trade deficit stands at $2.991b (about shs 10 trillion) as of the 2014/15 financial year.
“We are concerned about the country’s priorities of increasing our exports,” Patricia Ejalu, UNBS’ deputy executive director in charge of technical operations, said, adding that trade is based on manufacturers making sure they are meeting the standards.
“Many products that we are planning to export have internationally accredited standards. You will not be able to exchange anything if you are not meeting the standards of the person you are trying to sell to,” she added.
She also said one of the challenges that the partnership shall address is the calibration linking weight measurement to international weight because there have been cases of variation in weights between what was recorded before export and what is recorded in the international markets and this has led to a fall in the prices of Ugandan products.
“We are at the mercy of the people we are exporting to because we do not have the data to sow that our products are safe. We shall make sure that through this arrangement, such issues are catered for right from the initial stages before exports,” Ejalu said.
Under the arrangement, all manufacturing firms in the free zones shall be subjected to checks by UNBS. There will also be exchange of staff between the two organizations to further understand what each of them does.
A free zone is a designated area where goods are regarded as being outside the customs territory as far as import duty is concerned.
It usually takes the form of manufacturing or processing facilities, science and technology parks or even a tourism development zone.
Credit to By Benon Ojiambo
New Vision Newspaper 26th July 2016.