Over the last two decades since the new chapter of the East African Community, Uganda has made rapid progress due to her consensual relations with other member states.
The continuous engagement between Uganda and her partners is necessary and has significant implications for safeguarding the EAC for pan-African destiny to achieve prosperity, competitiveness, security, stability and political unification. No doubt Uganda’s membership with countries – Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South sudan and applicant DRC – reinforces economic, political, social and cultural integration.
Uganda’s joint mission in her deployment to combat terrorism in the region is obviously significant with enormous results. The UPDF’s campaign against the Al-Shabaab and peace keeping in south Sudan is of high value and partly contributes to the security, trade and investment in the East African region and neighborhood.
The EAC is a major market for Kenya’s products, creates opportunities for cross-border investment as well as platform for creation of a unified voice in the international arena. The EAC Integration process is anchored on four pillars namely Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union and Political Federation. Uganda has been part of the agenda to realize several milestones under these pillars.
The enthusiasm of the EAC to facilitate trade among its members is enshrined in Article 5 (2) of the Treaty establishing the East African Community which states that the first stage of EAC integration will be the formation of a Customs Union. Uganda is reaping from the four major elements of the Customs Union via Common External Tariff (CET), EAC Rules of Origin (RoO) criteria, the internal elimination of tariffs for goods meeting the EAC RoO criteria and the elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs). These are facilitating inter and intra-regional trade in goods and services in and out of Uganda.
Kenya, for instance, is the largest destination of Uganda’s exports, while the bulk of imports during May 2021 were sourced from Tanzania, according to the monthly performance of the economy report (June 2021) by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. It should however be noted that Uganda traded at a deficit of USD 105.31 million within the EAC region during May 2021, with Tanzania accounting for the largest share of the trade deficit. The large deficit with Tanzania more than offset the trade surpluses recorded with South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi.
With the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) that has passed several community laws and the Council of Ministers that has established various Sectoral Councils to oversee policy issues in the regional integration progress, there is a signal that Uganda is progressing as part of the region destined to consolidate the EAC’s achievements given the widened and deepened scope and nature of cooperation.