Finance minister Matia Kasaija has called on member states of the East African Community to stop rejecting each other’s products adding that is undermines the spirit of integration.
Kasaija made the call on Thursday at the official opening of the 26th International Trade Fair organised by the Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) at the UMA show grounds in Lugogo.
Kasaija said when Tanzania rejected Uganda’s sugar worth $400m, it undermined the spirit of trade among countries in the region.
“So my appeal to ambassadors present here, take this message back and inform the leaders that we are colleagues in the East African Community and as such we must work together,” said Kasaija.
He added that despite efforts by him and President Yoweri Museveni to engage their Tanzanian counterparts, nothing yielded fruit and instead, the President was told that sugar from Uganda had been re-exported.
“We offered them space and time to come and inspect the factory where sugar was coming from, they insisted and the factory had to incur extra costs to ship the sugar back to Uganda and in the process, its quality was affected,” Kasaija added.
He also revealed that at the moment there is an importer for rice from Tanzania who has also been blocked at Mutukula border and wants the finance minister to intervene.
“My young boys are now telling me to retaliate but I am saying we shall not, but we shall find ways of addressing it and that is how brotherhood in the region should be,” said Kasaija.
He added that in future, if any country within the region finds one product wanting, they should first engage each other and find a long lasting solution to the problem at hand.
Kasaija was responding to a call by the minister of trade, industry and cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde, that government should hand holder manufactures to EAC members states as a means of finding more market for goods made in Uganda.
The trade fair that is running under the theme Enhancing Value Addition Through Industrialisation: A Precursor For Our Economic Growth, has so far attracted close to 1300 exhibitors.