Uganda is seeking to increase its exports to South Sudan following a new peace deal that has been signed by the warring parties.
South Sudan became Uganda's leading export destination in 2008 after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. Total exports peaked at $1.18 billion by 2008.
Data from the Uganda Exports Promotion Board shows a steady decrease in Uganda’s exports to South Sudan from $414 million in 2013 to $385 million and $353 million in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
There was a drastically decrease to $239 million in 2016 and a rise to $299 million in 2017.
Uganda’s leading exports to South Sudan are cereals, maize and wheat flour, sugar, iron and steel, cement, beer and soft drinks, motor vehicle re-exports, vegetable oils and soap lubricants.
Akbar Lumbuye, an exporter dealing in fruits and vegetables, said traders shunned the South Sudan market and opted for DRC and Rwanda after an earlier peace deal and ceasefire agreements were violated.
“South Sudan was dangerous since we were always ambushed by gunmen who demanded money or stole our merchandise. Although it was a profitable market, we had to look elsewhere for our safety but we shall go back as soon as all is safe,” he said.
On July 12, 2016 after a failed peace deal in South Sudan, the government advised the Ugandan business community to explore other market opportunities created through regional integration.
Sam Karuhanga of the Uganda Export Promotions Board told The EastAfrican that the government was drawing up a plan to increase trade with South Sudan without giving details.
But The EastAfrican understands that the plan includes expediting the construction of a border market on the Uganda-South Sudan border by the Ministry of Trade.