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POLICY REVIEWS: SECOND PRESS RELEASE AND
The Trade Policy Review Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its second review of Uganda on 19 and 21 December 2001. The text of the Chairperson's concluding remarks is attached as a summary of the salient points which emerged during the discussion.
TRADE POLICY REVIEW BODY: REVIEW OF UGANDA
TPRB'S EVALUATION Back to top
The review enables the TPRB to conduct a collective examination of the full range of trade policies and practices of each WTO member countries at regular periodic intervals to monitor significant trends and developments which may have an impact on the global trading system.
The review is based on two reports which are prepared respectively by the WTO Secretariat and the government under review and which cover all aspects of the country's trade policies, including its domestic laws and regulations, the institutional framework, bilateral, regional and other preferential agreements, the wider economic needs and the external environment. A record of the discussion and the Chairperson's summing-up together with these two reports will be published in due course at the complete trade policy review of Uganda and will be available from the WTO Secretariat, Centre William Rappard, 154 rue de Lausanne, 1211 Geneva 21.
Since December 1989, the following reports have been completed: Argentina (1992 and 1999), Australia (1989, 1994 and 1998), Austria (1992), Bahrain (2000) Bangladesh (1992 and 2000), Benin (1997), Bolivia (1993 and 1999), Botswana (1998), Brazil (1992, 1996 and 2000), Brunei Darussalam (2001), Burkina Faso (1998), Cameroon (1995 and 2001), Canada (1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000), Chile (1991 and 1997), Colombia (1990 and 1996), Costa Rica (1995 and 2001), Côte d'Ivoire (1995), Cyprus (1997), the Czech Republic (1996 and 2001), the Dominican Republic (1996), Egypt (1992 and 1999), El Salvador (1996), the European Communities (1991, 1993, 1995, 1997 and 2000), Fiji (1997), Finland (1992), Gabon (2001), Ghana (1992 and 2001), Guinea (1999), Hong Kong (1990, 1994 and 1998), Hungary (1991 and 1998), Iceland (1994 and 2000), India (1993 and 1998), Indonesia (1991, 1994 and 1998), Israel (1994 and 1999), Jamaica (1998), Japan (1990, 1992, 1995,1998 and 2000), Kenya (1993 and 2000), Korea, Rep. of (1992, 1996 and 2000), Lesotho (1998), Macao (1994 and 2001), Madagascar (2001), Malaysia (1993, 1997 and 2001), Mali (1998), Mauritius (1995 and 2001), Mexico (1993 and 1997), Morocco (1989 and 1996), Mozambique (2001), New Zealand (1990 and 1996), Namibia (1998), Nicaragua (1999), Nigeria (1991 and 1998), Norway (1991, 1996 and 2000), OECS (2001), Pakistan (1995), Papua New Guinea (1999), Paraguay (1997), Peru (1994 and 2000), the Philippines (1993 and 1999), Poland (1993 and 2000), Romania (1992 and 1999), Senegal (1994), Singapore (1992, 1996 and 2000), Slovak Republic (1995 and 2001), the Solomon Islands (1998), South Africa (1993 and 1998), Sri Lanka (1995), Swaziland (1998), Sweden (1990 and 1994), Switzerland (1991, 1996 and 2000 (jointly with Liechtenstein)), Tanzania (2000), Thailand (1991, 1995 and 1999), Togo (1999), Trinidad and Tobago (1998), Tunisia (1994), Turkey (1994 and 1998), the United States (1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1999 and 2001), Uganda (1995 and 2001), Uruguay (1992 and 1998), Venezuela (1996), Zambia (1996) and Zimbabwe (1994).
We have had a very interesting exchange of views during this second Trade Policy Review of Uganda. This was facilitated by the presence of a large Ugandan delegation, headed by Professor Rugumayo, Minister of Tourism, Trade and Industry. Members commented positively on the impressive growth of the Ugandan economy in recent years, aided by structural reforms and a strong macroeconomic performance, which resulted in Uganda's early inclusion in the HIPC Initiative. Various government programmes put emphasis on poverty alleviation, diversification, and promotion of the private sector. However, high production costs, declining terms of trade, climatic conditions, non-tariff barriers in export markets and appreciation of the Uganda shilling have negatively affected its economic performance, its export competitiveness in particular.
Members observed the seriousness with which Uganda had pursued its privatization agenda, but noted a slowing in recent years. It was pointed out that, by speeding up the process for the remaining entities, and by addressing governance and security problems, and regulatory and institutional weaknesses, Uganda might further facilitate trade and attract investment. Members were encouraged by Uganda's assurances and actions in this respect. Some Members noted, however, that issues of governance should be treated prudently in the TPRs.
Members commended Uganda on its active participation in the Multilateral Trading System. They called on Uganda to provide notification concerning its use of WTO-compatible customs valuation procedures, and to join the Information Technology Agreement, in the context of the Government's clear emphasis on the economic importance of information technology industries. They queried about Uganda’s trade-related priorities, and urged that inter-Ministerial coordination and coherence be improved in this respect. Members noted Uganda’s expectations and experience that non-reciprocal preferential treatment and its regional arrangements were a spur to liberalization, particularly through the active participation of the private sector. Concerns were expressed about overlapping membership of regional agreements in which Uganda participated, and the likely increases that might result from the adoption of common external tariffs under the agreements.
Members expressed their appreciation of Uganda's commitment and continued efforts to liberalize its trade regime. They commended Uganda for the simplification of its tariff structure through the reduction of the number of bands to three and of the maximum rate to 15%. Members encouraged Uganda to narrow the gap between bound and applied rates, and to increase the coverage of its tariff bindings on non-agricultural products. Concerns were expressed about the WTO compatibility of the import licence commission and the withholding tax, while Uganda had bound other duties and charges at zero. Members noted Uganda’s commitment to developing a capability to create a set of standards, although the effort had been hampered by financial constraints, and made suggestions for streamlining standardization in Uganda.
Members pointed out the heavy dependence of Uganda’s economy on agriculture, particularly coffee. Although recent reforms had emphasized diversification and modernization of agriculture, much more needed to be done in this area. In manufacturing, low capacity utilization and high production costs had meant that few of Uganda's manufactured goods were competitive. In services, Members encouraged Uganda to speed up the liberalization reforms and to improve its commitments under the GATS.
Members also sought further clarification on, inter alia:
Members appreciated the responses provided by the delegation of Uganda during the meeting, and looked forward to later replies to some questions.
In conclusion, as a result of this Review, Members have better understood developments in Uganda’s trade policies and practices since 1995. Members commended Uganda for the introduction of a social dimension in its economic reforms. However, they urged that trade policies and practices be further mainstreamed in Uganda’s poverty alleviation strategy. Members encouraged Uganda to pursue its reforms and further integrate its economy into the multilateral trading system. Several Members urged that the Ugandan authorities provide additional resources to their Mission in Geneva to allow it to fully pursue the interests of Uganda, particularly so that it could play an active role on the Doha Development Agenda. Some Members indicated their willingness to provide Uganda with trade-related technical assistance. In my personal capacity, I advocate that all Members support Uganda in its efforts by providing market access for its products, and assistance for trade-related capacity building and improving competitiveness; in that respect it is fundamental to ensure full and active implementation of the Integrated Framework for Uganda.