Uganda Poor at trade policy, says Report

East African Business Week, March 15-21, 2010

Uganda faired badly in inclusive trade policy making compared to her East and central African counterparts of Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia, a report has shown.

According to the Inclusiveness of Trade Policy Making (ITPM) report released last week in Kampala, Uganda was second last in ratings.ITPM index is a measure of inclusivity of trade policy making processes by respective government ministries and stakeholders.It rates a country's ability to integrate trade policies into its development plans through consultative mechanisms.

Despite the presence of an Inter Institutional Trade Committee (IITC), a consultative forum on trade policy and implementation under Ministry of Tourism trade and Industry (MTTI), the consultative mechanism is reportedly poor.

Presenting the research findings for Uganda last week, the Director Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) Geneva Resource Centre, Mr Atul Kaushik, said Uganda has challenges, which need more attention of both the Government and other stakeholders.

"Uganda has no problem with getting money. Donors are willing to come up, but the main challenge is less up take by the operating levels of government machinery to implement the policies," Atul said.

The report found out that lack of capacity to fully implement necessary reforms, lack of regular information flow on trade issues, and lack of involvement and participation was a challenge among other relevant government ministries and agencies.

It further stated that occasional tensions with Government, limited outreach to rural areas and the grassroots were challenges to CSOs.

"Limited trust between government and civil society since civil society does not agree with many aspects of the government's neo-liberal approach," the report said.

According to the report, Kenya was ranked top among the five countries in inclusiveness of trade policy making followed by Zambia and Malawi.

For Uganda to score highly in trade policy inclusiveness, the report recommends investment in knowledge and expertise building, promotion of a culture of dialogue and inclusiveness by all stakeholders. It also recommends regular information flow on trade issues and better coordination among relevant government ministries and agencies.

"Inclusiveness will generate national ownership, which is the best guarantee for effective implementation of trade policy as part of overall development policy," the report said.

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