Intracontinental trade ties in Africa should be significantly strengthened, according to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who met with his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Tuesday.
The Ugandan government delegation arrived in Pretoria to negotiate potential moves towards raising reciprocal investment and increasing the levels of trade between the two nations.
Read more: Contract killings come cheap in South Africa
Talking to journalists ahead of the meeting, the leaders highlighted the importance of intracontinental trade, while outlining the challenges African countries face in their attempts to boost trade ties.
“Bringing steel products from China, India and Ukraine, in the past, is very expensive, the freight alone is bigger than even the cost of the product itself,” Museveni said, as cited by Africanews. “So it is very important that we develop an inland steel industry for Uganda and those areas around there. We need coal from South Africa.”
According to Ramaphosa, developing relationships between major South African food producers and Ugandan suppliers of such products as vanilla, coffee and cocoa may help to expand the broader consumer goods market.
“South Africa is open to increasing the quantity and diversity of products we source from Uganda, because the success of intra-Africa trade hinges on each of us sourcing from one another and prioritizing “made and grown in Africa” products and services,” Ramaphosa said.
Read more: Russia’s trade with African country up more than 50% – ambassador
He added that South African companies are ready to invest more in the banking, retail, and telecommunication sectors in Uganda.
The number of South African businesses in Uganda has declined from 70 firms to just 36, according to Ramaphosa, while trade volumes between the nations have recently been dropping.