November 16—Sudan is willing to open up its domestic market to Ugandan goods as long as all quality considerations are met.
In talks with Evelyn Anite, Uganda’s junior minister for privatization and investment, Sudanese Federal Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, Dr. Abdullatif Ahmed Mohamed said, “Uganda is one of our main suppliers of coffee, but we shall open our market to other crops provided they meet the quality.”
Dr. Mohamed was part of the delegation that accompanied President Bashir in the week. Sudan buys a large percentage of its foodstuffs, especially wheat, from abroad and its leading trading partners are the United Arab Emirates and China.
For just over 15 years, Sudan has been Uganda’s top export market for coffee in Africa buying nearly a million bags annually. However two years ago, the Khartoum authorities stiffened the quality standards. At the time, certification was only possible in Mombasa where Bureau Veritas, the Sudanese government appointed inspecting company had facilities. Taking into account the extra costs, Ugandan exporters through the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives sought a compromise.
Subsequently, the Sudan Standards Metrology Organization (SSMO) granted Uganda a two year grace period for building capacity locally for meeting the new requirements. Uganda National Bureau of Standards has been consulting with SSMO to get the job done before the end of this year.
Meeting at the finance ministry, Anite said Uganda has investment opportunities in agriculture, oil and gas. “We have investment opportunities especially in agro-processing. Currently, Uganda is exporting raw materials, because there no investors who can effectively invest in agricultural value-addition. As a country we need to collaborate with our neighbours to see that economic growth is achievable,” Anite said. She said the government offers investors a conducive environment, including a 10 year tax holiday.
Coffee remains Uganda leading export commodity and the government wants annual production to top 20 million bags by 2020. Dr. Emmanuel Niyibigira, the Managing Director of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority said “It’s very possible for Uganda to earn more from the sector if the country gets more investors to invest in the coffee sector. As the Authority, we shall provide the technical support to all investors from Sudan willing to invest in our sector.”