Trade Data Analysis

Uganda: Intra-Africa trade and tariff profile

Uganda: Intra-Africa trade and tariff profile

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This Trade Data Update provides an overview of Uganda’s intra-African trade relationships, both within the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and with other individual African countries; the top import and export products traded; and applicable tariffs. Data is sourced from the International Trade Centre (ITC) TradeMap database and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Tariff Database. The update is accompanied by a visual representation of key data and trends in an infographic.

Regional Economic Communities

Uganda is a member of three regional economic communities – the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The EAC is a Customs Union and intra-EAC trade (between Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania) is free of all import duties.

16 COMESA members participate in the COMESA Free Trade Area – the DRC, Eritrea and Ethiopia are all in the process of accession. Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) has preferential access to other COMESA member states due to derogations, but is exempt from reciprocating preferential access due to it being a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

The IGAD members are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. IGAD focuses on policy and programme harmonisation, peace and security, food security and sustainable development, facilitating investment, capacity building and infrastructure development. There has been no intra-IGAD tariff liberalisation.

Intra-Africa trade

In 2017, Uganda exported and imported goods to and from the rest of Africa to the value of US$1.1 billion and US$940 million, respectively. Intra-Africa exports account for 39% of Uganda’s total exports and imports for 17% of total imports for 2017.

  • Uganda mainly exports agricultural commodities to the rest of Africa, including tea, coffee, maize, legumes, sugar and tobacco. The only exceptions are electrical energy and cement. The top 10 intra-Africa export products account for 47% of Uganda’s total exports to other African countries.

  • Uganda’s key imports from other African countries are base metals, mineral products and chemical products. In 2017, 3% of Uganda’s intra-Africa imports were sugar in solid form.

  • The most important import products are flat-rolled iron and steel products, petroleum oil, cement, salts, mixtures of odoriferous substances (a beverage additive), medicaments and paper and plastic packaging. The top 10 import products from the rest of Africa account for 34% of Uganda’s total intra-Africa imports.

  • 49% of Uganda’s total intra-Africa trade (exports + imports) is with Kenya.

  • Other important trading partners are South Africa (12%), DRC (9%), Rwanda (9%) and Tanzania (7%).

  • The principal destination markets for Ugandan exports are Kenya, DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi.

  • Uganda sources intra-Africa imports from Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Egypt and Swaziland.

Intra-Africa import tariffs

Goods imported into Uganda from other EAC member states enter duty-free.

Except for goods imported from the DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Eswatini; imports from other COMESA members enter Uganda at a 0% tariff. Goods from Eswatini receive preferential access under derogations. The DRC, Eritrea and Ethiopia are at various stages of becoming full members of the COMESA FTA. Goods imported from the DRC are currently levied the MFN applied tariffs due to the progressive tariff phase down envisaged to reduce tariffs on intra-COMESA trade to zero by 2018 not being realised. The preferential import tariff for goods from Eritrea vary between 2% and 12%; up to 20% of the EAC Common External Tariff. Products imported from Ethiopia are levied preferential tariffs of 9%, 18%, 22.5%, 31.5%, 45% and 54%; up to 90% of the EAC Common External Tariff.

Somalia is the only IGAD member not also a member of either the EAC or COMESA. Since no tariff liberalisation is taking place under IGAD, imports from Somalia into Uganda currently face MFN applied tariffs.

29% of Uganda’s intra-Africa imports are from countries outside the EAC and COMESA. 92% of these products are sourced from South Africa. The main import products (from outside the EAC and COMESA) are iron and steel products, certain instruments and appliances, diesel trucks and refined sugar in solid form. Of the top 10 products imported only three products are not imported duty-free; facing high (diesel trucks and uncoated paper at 25%) and excessive (refined sugar) tariffs.

African imports from outside the EAC and COMESA are levied the MFN applied duty. The highest simple average MFN applicable duties are on not concentrated sweetened and unsweetened milk and cream (60%), fermented and acidified milk and cream (like buttermilk) (60%), cheese and curd (60%), wheat and meslin flour (50%) and cereal flours and maize (both 37.5%).


Uganda: Intra-Africa trade and tariff profile | June 2018
Infographic: Uganda – Intra-Africa trade and tariff profile | June 2018

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