KAMPALA, April 11 (Xinhua) -- Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have agreed to remove non-tariff trade barriers in a bid to boost trade between the two African countries.
The agreement was reached during a Wednesday meeting attended by Uganda's trade minister Amelia Kyambadde and DRC's external trade minister Jean-Lucien Bussa Tongba in Uganda's Kasese. Kasese hosts one of the major border trade points between Uganda and DRC called Mpondwe.
A joint communique signed by the two ministers said the meeting had reached an agreement to also enhance management and control of standards and quality as well as exchange of information and statistics.
Last year, the DRC had banned the importation of certain products such as drinks from Uganda, prompting traders at the border district to complain.
Following the meeting, there is hope that more goods will be allowed to cross the border line.
"The two ministers considered and approved the list of products for the Simplified Trade Regime (STR)," the communique said. STR was recently implemented by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in a bid to help the small traders to benefit from the preferential rates enjoyed by commercial traders when importing or exporting goods within member states.
Uganda's exports to DRC reached 177 million U.S. dollars while it collects 2.5 million dollars from Congolese imports. Whereas Uganda exports lime and cement, iron and steel, cereals, vegetables and fruits, it brings in oils, cosmetics, iron and steel from DRC.
Last month, Uganda announced it had secured a loan from the World Bank to construct three modern markets across the border with DRC.
Uganda and DRC have in the past undertaken joint campaigns such as the fight against rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces.
Thousands of Congolese refugees have also found shelter in Uganda due to the ethnic clashes in eastern DRC.