PUBLISHED ON July 25th, 2014


Chambers of Commerce from across East Africa and their members are being offered an opportunity to develop trade and commercial ties at a Global Trade Forum set to take place in Kampala on June 18.

Olive Kigongo, the President, Uganda National Chamber of Commerce (UNCCI) who also serves as Vice-Chair of the East Africa Business Council said chambers in East Africa have much to benefit from developing their partnerships with chambers worldwide.

“The Forum will help create new business opportunities and influence public policies across the EAC business community, improving the business environment and also helping chambers better understand the important value-added services that they provide in achieving economic development in their communities,” she said.

Organized by the UNCCI, the Global Trade Forum will offer a chance for participants to foster institutional connections with their peers from around the world.

As well as an extensive B2B business matching programme, the event will also provide international chamber and business delegates with a platform to engage with high-level decision makers on the region’s wide range of trade and investment opportunities.

“Helping our Africa chamber colleagues benefit from the global network is a key part of the World Chambers Federation’s three-year strategy,” Peter Mihok, the WCF Chair said.

He said, “This event in Kampala is just the first of several actions planned for the region.”

A keynote address will be made by Maria Kiwanuka, Uganda’s Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

Other speakers include Allen Kagina, Commissioner General, Uganda Revenue Authority (on the East African Community Customs Union); Frank Sebbowa, Executive Director, Uganda Investment Authority; and Richard Sezibera, Secretary General, East African Community (EAC).

A communiqué from Anthony Parkes, Director at World Chamber Federation (WCF) says WCF will convene a special roundtable session and hold a meeting of the WCF Executive Committee one day before the Forum. The WCF roundtable will feature chamber leaders from East Africa who will present the challenges and opportunities of their organizations in their respective countries.

Meanwhile Reuters reports Ethiopia may delay plans to join the World Trade Organization in 2015 if the country is required to liberalize its tightly regulated telecoms and banking industries sooner than it would like, the trade minister said.

Kebede Chane told lawmakers recently that member countries had raised dozens of questions with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s government, focusing on the time frame for opening up the service sector to international competition.

Ethiopia’s fast-growing market of 90 million people has lured foreign investors from Sweden, China and Turkey to its manufacturing sector. But laws deny outside firms access to areas viewed domestically as cash-cows or politically sensitive.

Washington, which wants Ethiopia to allow more competition, said it was committed to renewing its African Growth and Opportunities Act with Addis Ababa, an accord that gives Ethiopia-made textiles preferential access to United States markets.

Addis Ababa, with its strong state-interventionist policies, has one of sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest growing economies and its fifth biggest. But it has spurned the liberalizing approach of other African markets to shield its infant private sector from foreign competition and to keep profits at home. The minister cited China, which he said took 50 years to accept membership into the global trading club.

Source: East African Business Week

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