Uganda banks on expositions in China to attract investors, market

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-19 22:31:58|Editor: Yurou
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KAMPALA, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Uganda is using platforms availed by expositions in China to attract investors and also make sales.

The most recent exposition was the first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo held in June in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province. Uganda was chosen by China as the Guest Country of Honor. President Yoweri Museveni led a delegation of 125 people including senior government officials and exhibitors who pitched to potential Chinese investors.

At a review meeting held here late on Thursday at the Economic and Commercial Counsellor's office of the Chinese embassy, deals worth 48 million U.S. dollars were reached.

Elly Twineyo, executive director of Uganda Export Promotion Board, a state agency charged with export promotion told Xinhua in an interview that before the Changsha expo, the Ugandan delegation was at the Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition where several deals were concluded.

"We are in Beijing and we are getting orders, we have got orders for flowers, fish, greens and cassava," Twineyo said.

"We also went to Changsha, we got big orders. We have also got partners who are willing to come and invest," he added.

Twineyo said they are now targeting the second China International Import Exhibition that will be held in Shanghai in November to close more deals and also attract investors.

Expos in China are critical for countries like Uganda which have limited resources to go to different provinces, searching for buyers and potential investors.

"These events in China like expos, trade fairs are very important for Uganda. When we go to these events, you find people in one location," Twineyo said.

Besides the expos in China, Uganda is targeting to use the China-Uganda expos at home to attract investors. Uganda will hold the first China-Uganda Industrial Capacity Cooperation Exposition scheduled for July 23-26 in the capital Kampala.

Forty-three enterprises from 122 provinces and cities in China will showcase their products and also seek to explore investment opportunities in Uganda.

The exhibitors come from varied sectors which include infrastructure construction, machinery and equipment, minerals and metals, tourism and health.

Martin Muhangi, an official at Uganda Investment Authority, a state agency charged with promotion of investment, on Wednesday said Uganda is going to continue using the expos as an opportunity to showcase Uganda as a preferred investment destination.

Muhangi said the Chinese investors can use Uganda as a launch pad to the East African market.

Muhangi added that Chinese investors can further use Uganda to access the entire African market, especially after the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement.

Chinese investors seem to be already interested in Uganda. Figures from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Uganda show that over 350 Chinese owned enterprises are operating within the country. They are engaged in various business ventures which among others include, manufacturing, oil and gas, and mineral development.

Figures from the Chinese embassy here indicate that Uganda in 2018 ranked the third in Africa as a destination of Chinese Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The FDI from China to Uganda in 2018 was over 270 million U.S. dollars.

According to the embassy, China is also the third largest trading partner and one of the most important development partners to Uganda.

China has financed some of Uganda's key transport and energy infrastructure. These include financing the expansion of the Entebbe International Airport and the ongoing construction of Karuma Hydro Power Plant.

The Asian country also financed the construction of the already launched Isimba Hydro Power Plant and the Entebbe-Kampala Expressway, which links the capital Kampala to the international airport.

Speaking at an annual bankers' meeting here on Tuesday, Uganda's finance minister Matia Kasaija called for increased exports to China noting that the Chinese market is widely open for Ugandan goods.

Kasaija said he had just returned from China where they held discussions about exporting Ugandan goods to the Chinese market.

He said both countries have a good working relationship which gives them the opportunity to trade with each other.

"The gate to China is open for us all. What you need is to produce high quality goods and in big volume," the minister said.

Zhao Xiufen, economic and commercial counselor at the Chinese embassy here on Thursday said Uganda and China are determined to deepen their bilateral ties.

At the continental level, Uganda also stands out to benefit from the wider China-Africa cooperation.

At the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, China said it will implement eight major initiatives with African countries, which include industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation and green development.

Zhao said the embassy is working with the Uganda government to see how best Uganda can achieve from the major initiatives.