KAMPALA/KIGALI – President Yoweri Museveni has told ruling party lawmakers that stoppage of Ugandan exports to Rwanda will have no impact to the economy.
Calling the Uganda-Rwanda ongoing standoff “these temporary things”, Museveni said Uganda exports to much bigger markets like Kenya, South Sudan, and Ethiopia.
Museveni was speaking to National Resistance Movement (NRM) Parliamentary Caucus retreat going-on at the National Leadership Institute (NALI), Kyankwanzi.
“When there is a problem here, there is another compensatory opportunity somewhere else,” said Museveni, adding that from Ethiopia alone, earnings reach $700m.
On Wednesday, Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Ministry Sam Kutesa issued a statement accusing Rwanda of introducing an export permit system for those that intend to import goods to Uganda.
Describing it as a technical and non-tariff barrier to trade, Uganda insisted that it amounted to a trade embargo, saying there had been no successful applicants.
Uganda also accused Rwanda of preventing the export of Ugandan goods across the border, in addition to restricting goods and trucks from Rwanda from crossing over to Uganda.
Rwanda had also previously accused Uganda of economic sabotage, saying it frustrated goods transiting through its territory, destined for Kigali.
On Thursday, Rwanda’s foreign minister, Dr. Richard Sezibera described Uganda’s accusations as untrue and diversionary, saying Kampala has failed to address the fundamental issues at the heart of the dispute.
“These are the fundamental issues that need to be addressed. Claims that Rwanda has instituted a trade embargo on Uganda are as untrue as they are diversionary,” Rwanda said in the statement.
Rwanda has repeatedly accused Uganda of harassing its citizens through arbitrary arrests and irregular deportations, in addition to harboring dissidents against Paul Kagame’s government.
The foreign minister also noted that Rwandan citizens involved in regular business and trade, have been targeted by Ugandan authorities, through actions including limiting free movement of perishable goods coming through Uganda.
“The Government of Rwanda calls upon the Government of Uganda to address the key issues stated above and as already repeatedly communicated in bilateral settings.”
Uganda has denied these accusations.
The same trade route serves as a pipeline for Kenyan exports and helps supply merchandise to Burundi and parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Landlocked Rwanda transports a significant amount of its imports via a trade route passing through Uganda from the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa.