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May 24, 2024
Kampala Daily

Museveni to EU: Keep politics out of business

The government of Uganda has appealed to western countries to help improve the quality of production so as to meet the required standards of the export markets and also separate business from politics.

This comes as the EU Commission is due to start enforcing climate and human rights protection regulations regarding Uganda exports which are expected to see some items blocked from one of the country’s ma trading partners.

The regulations aim to ensure that goods produced in Uganda are from processes that do not infringe on human rights and the environment, including cutting forests to grow crops or destroying the environment to produce wood, among others.

Speaking at the 3rd Uganda-European Union Business Forum happening in Kampala, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni also castigated the west for what he called imposing their political demands on Uganda, with threats to stop trade.

Giving the example of the conflicts in Israel and Palestine, Museveni said the problem started when the Romans imposed their rule on Israel and centuries later, the Ottoman Turks blocked Europeans from using the direct trade route to the East. According to him, these some of the factors that later made Europeans invade and Africa.

He said while the Europeans and others are by necessity expected to trade with Africa, it is wrong for them to use politics because, he says it amounts to a trade barrier.

Uganda has recently come under attack by some western countries over its record on human rights, with the US suctioning some state officials as well as suspending Uganda’s participation in the AGOA trade initiative, while the World Bank suspended future loans to the country.

Museveni said instead that such countries should lead by example for others to emulate instead of arm twisting them, which he called arrogance.

Museveni called for dialogue on doing business saying that the absence of it was one of the biggest problems to trade. “I urge EU Ambassadors here to help us engage in serious dialogue. We’re ready for serious dialogue, not wasting and missing opportunities,” he said.

John Mulimba, the state ministry for foreign affairs in charge of regional affairs, hailed the increasing trade between the EU and Uganda, which was about 1.5 billion euro, and more so the fact that it was slightly in favour of Uganda. He, however, said that this can be improved on especially if Uganda exports more value added commodities instead of primary products, calling on the European investors to take up the task.

Mulimba showed concern about the EU regulations on Agricultural products for export, saying the move, though good for the environment, would affect the country’s export sector.

He said that the regulations require a lot of capital and technical expertise that the Ugandan private sector might not have, hence the call on EU to help the local business community meet the standards.

Eight new projects worth more than 200 million euro (854 billion shillings) were launched, to support small business owners, young female entrepreneurs, agribusinesses as well as vital digital infrastructure projects in full Team Europe format with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and several Member States.

“These concrete initiatives will make a difference to aspiring entrepreneurs, Ugandan businesses and create jobs in multiple sectors. This is a perfect example of how Global Gateway can make a tangible difference for citizens and businesses and unlock the full potential of a partner country by working together,” said Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships.

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