The establishment of the East African Customs Union has led to rapid increase in trade between Uganda and Kenya, Ugandan First Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for East African Affairs Eriya Kategaya has said.
Kategaya was quoted by state-owned New Vision on Wednesday saying that Ugandan imports from Kenya increased from 67 million U. S. dollars in 2004 to 78 million dollars last year and goods worth 423 million dollars were exported to Kenya last year, compared to 348 million dollars in 2004.
The figures excluded informal trade such as smuggling, Kategaya clarified.
Opening a meeting for the East African Community (EAC) defense ministers at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Tuesday, Kategaya said, "All indicators show increased volumes of trade within and amongst the partner states."
"With the (formal) admission of Rwanda and Burundi effective on June 18, 2007, the EAC will become a bigger economy with a combined GDP of over 43 billion dollars and a total population of about 120 million," said Kategaya.
Kategaya noted that when the two countries join the bloc, the EAC would become a more attractive investment destination.
According to Kategaya, member-states are scheduled to begin negotiations on the Common Market Protocol later this year.
He said work on the monetary union was also underway, adding that the EAC leaders are expected to meet next month to discuss reports on the political fast tracking.
According to the treaty for the establishment of the EAC, the roadmap towards full integration begins with a customs union, a common market, a monetary union and ultimately a political federation.
The EAC customs union protocol was signed on March 2, 2004 and launched on Jan. 1 in the following year.