Uganda and Tanzania are seeking to increase their bilateral trade by removing non-tariff barriers, streamlining immigration processes and offering tax incentives.
The two governments signed three MoUs on the agriculture, immigration and correctional services sectors during the inaugural Uganda-Tanzania Business Forum in Dar es Salaam.
The two-day forum, held on September 5-6, was attended by Presidents John Magufuli and Yoweri Museveni.
Ministers, permanent secretaries and government technocrats also held meetings to iron out issues affecting bilateral trade, which has been on the decline.
Last year, trade between the two countries stood at $338 billion, but this year, it has significantly decreased to nearly $116.7 billion, according to Tanzanian authorities.
Uganda’s Private Sector Foundation called on Tanzania to remove all trade barriers and resolve not to introduce new ones as per the Common Market protocol.
The foundation cited Tanzania’s entry denial of sugar imports from Uganda, high road user fees, mandatory business visas of $500, refusal of Ugandan Custom officers from working at the port of Dar es Salaam as some of the challenges affecting bilateral trade.
The private sector also called on both governments to expedite infrastructure development from the port of Dar es Salaam to Lake Victoria and northwards to South Sudan, to reduce the cost of doing business along the Central Corridor.
President Magufuli decried the fact that only 22 Ugandan companies were registered in Tanzania compared with over 400 from Kenya.
He also cited bureaucracy and NTBs as the main impediments to business and trade. He said his government was focused on rehabilitating the old metre gauge railway and completing the standard gauge railway, which would reduce transport costs between the two countries.
President Museveni said “those putting up barriers don’t understand the importance of trade.”
Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs Minister Palamagamba Kabudi advised Ugandan business people to consider partnering with local companies for easier operations.
Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa said that both governments will appoint key officials to follow up on the progress and implementation of the trade agreements.