Big Story! Uganda, Kenya Enhance Economic Cooperation in 2nd JMC Meeting

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Senior Uganda and Kenya government officials have this Tuesday, May 14 2024 held the second Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) meeting in Kampala to deepen economic ties.

The deliberations focused on trade and investment; immigration and customs; energy and natural resources development; defence and security; health services; standards and quality assurance; water and lands; tourism and culture; among other areas of cooperation.

The second Joint Ministerial Commission meeting is a follow-up to review the implementation status of the commitments agreed upon by both countries during the first JMC session held in Nairobi in 2019.

Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gen. Jeje Odongo said that the meeting will find remedies to challenges that impede the conduct of business between the two East African Community (EAC) allies.

“Today’s Ministerial session is considering multi-sectoral matters, deliberating on obstacles and challenges to doing business and endeavouring to resolve outstanding and emerging issues,” said Odongo.

:I am confident that if we openly discuss and appropriately resolve these constraints; we will enhance our mutual understanding, deepen our bilateral cooperation, enhance trade between our countries, and promote common prosperity for our peoples,” said Gen Odongo.

Ministers; Judith Nabakooba and Balaam Barugahara attending the second JMC in Kampala on Tuesday

Trade between the East African Community member countries is guided by the Customs Union (the first Regional Integration milestone and critical foundation of the bloc), which has been in force since 2005, as defined in Article 75 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.

Under the customs union protocol, EAC Partner States agreed to establish free trade (or zero duty imposed) on goods and services amongst themselves and agreed on a common external tariff (CET), whereby imports from countries outside the EAC zone are subjected to the same tariff when sold to any EAC Partner State.

Despite the presence of the customs union, some goods originating from EAC member countries have been subjected to non-tariff barriers by some bloc members.

For instance, Kenya has previously restricted the entry of Ugandan goods such as sugar, poultry products, dairy products, and maize to its market.

The Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, Dr Musalia Mudavadi speaking at the second Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) meeting

Maize 

Recently, the Kenyan President, William Ruto said that in 2025, Kenya would not import any maize because the country has had bumper harvests in 2023.

Uganda is one of the major exporters of maize to the Kenyan market.

Speaking at the second session of the JMC meeting that is underway in Kampala, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, Dr Musalia Mudavadi who is leading the Kenyan delegation said the issue of non-tariff barriers will be prioritized.

“I desire that the issues on Non-Tariff Barriers that have continued to hamper cross-border trade between our countries are further discussed at length and a conclusive position reached to enable the augmentation of bilateral trade,” he said.

He added: “It is also imperative to address other outstanding issues relating to, immigration, boundary reaffirmation which has progressed at a slow pace due to challenges related to funding thereby impacting on the programme of action, and other cross border matters are addressed at the earliest. I am confident we shall reach an agreement on these important instruments for enhancing our cooperation.”

The Coordinator of the Infrastructure projects, Amb Richard Kabonero speaking during the JPC

Uganda and Kenya have over the years enjoyed warm and cordial relations.

Mudavadi said that Kenya considers the JMC to be a testament to both countries’ continued commitment to consolidate and strengthen these relations.

“I am confident that our deliberations during this JMC will further anchor our existing relations espoused by a rich historical background,” he said.

The “profound” friendship between the two countries, Mudavadi said, is the cornerstone of the shared socio-economic endeavours that will propel both nations’ national development programmes and the African Union Agenda 2063 to realize the aspirations of the African people.

The second JMC meeting precedes the official State Visit by President Yoweri Museveni to Kenya from 15th – 17th May 2024.

The State Visit will afford both countries an excellent opportunity to exchange views and review the progress of the many bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Credit: Chimpreports

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