South Sudan and Uganda held their first Joint Business Forum with the theme ‘Enhancing Bilateral Trade and Investment through Industrialization and Infrastructure Development' which ended on Wednesday, having been held for two days at the Beijing Hotel, Juba.
The South Sudan delegation was led by the Trade Minister Kuol Mawien.
The Ambassador of Uganda to South Sudan Gen. Ronnie Balya stated that the core objectives of the Joint Business Forum were to promote commercial and investment interests, improve the welfare of citizens and further bolster bilateral relations between Uganda and South Sudan.
During the discussions, Private and Public Sector stakeholders from South Sudan and Uganda engaged in open trade discussions to find out ways of enhancing investment opportunities to increase revenue and the already vibrant trade relations between both countries.
The bilateral trade relations between South Sudan and Uganda have and will continue to create enormous benefits for both countries including employment opportunities, job creation, and larger market access for both agricultural and manufactured products. Furthermore, it should be noted that South Sudan is one of Uganda’s largest trading partners. In 2021, South Sudan and Uganda traded goods worth $389M according to the Bank of Uganda report not considering the large volumes of informal trade that happens across the borders of the two countries.
The South Sudan-Uganda Business Forum attracted more than 200 delegates and over 30 businesses exhibited products from agriculture, and agribusiness products, services such as banking, telecommunications, cosmetics, arts and crafts among others.
There were information sharing, working sessions, and business-to-business interactions focusing on solutions to challenges faced when conducting business.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer, Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), Stephen Asiimwe mentioned that as business players, they were in Juba to discuss advocacy, network, explore new opportunities, showcase products and services, engage, and share experiences as well as understand the interventions we can implore to strengthen our business ties.
“Uganda & South Sudan have strong ties and vibrant historical relations. The Geopolitical significance of the business summit is absolute & a channel to help improve trade relations and grow the trade ratings for both countries,” said South Sudan’s Ambassador to Uganda, Simon Duku Michael.
The UNDP Uganda Resident Representative Elsie Attafuah said that the AfCFTA is beyond a trade-liberalizing instrument. It is an enabler of inclusive growth and sustainable development.
It has a huge potential to positively impact poverty, inequality, vulnerability, unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and structural weaknesses in the private sector. South Sudan is one of Uganda’s major trade partners in the East African Community (EAC).
Exports from Uganda to South Sudan have increased at an annualized rate of 46%, from US$17.3 million in 2012 to US$ 357 million in 2020. South Sudan exports goods worth US$ 850 million and imports goods and services worth US$ 1.1 billion. The top imports of South Sudan are Motor cars and other motor vehicles; principally designed for the transport of people (US$78.5M), Vehicles; for the transport of goods (US$52.3M), Food preparations not elsewhere specified or included (US$45.9M), Grain sorghum (US$38.7M), and Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose, in solid form (US$35.9M), importing mostly from Uganda (US$357M), Kenya (US$216M), United Arab Emirates (US$192M), China (US$156M), and United States (US$38.9M).
The Joint Business Forum was coordinated by the Government of South Sudan and the Embassy of the Republic of Uganda in South Sudan in partnership with the Private Sector Foundation Uganda.