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    Case study 3: Uganda's National Export Strategy


    International Trade Forum - Issue 4/2009

    © ITC

    When the Ugandan Government set out to develop its National Export Strategy in 2007, it actively sought to engage the private sector. With technical support from ITC and financial support from the Commonwealth Secretariat, a national task force was established to develop a pro-poor NES. The result was a strategy that mainstreamed export development into all aspects of national development and strengthened the economic role of women.

    The strategy's core team, comprising 12 members from the Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB), National Planning Authority, Private Sector Foundation, Uganda National Bureau of Statistics and the Ministries of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, implemented ITC's methodology. Throughout the design process, nearly 200 stakeholders from public and private institutions, enterprises, ministries, parliament, district representatives and donor agencies were involved through consultation and workshops with the core team.

    Six sectors - coffee, fish, tea, cotton and textiles, flowers and services - were identified as main priorities for the strategy. An additional six sectors (fruit and vegetables, dairy products, cereals and pulses, natural ingredients, commercial crafts and value-added manufacturers) were subsequently identified to promote export diversification. With a trade imbalance brought on by rising imports, the NES was necessary to diversify and strengthen exports.

    The private sector was fully involved in the NES, primarily through representative associations. The response was positive with feedback indicating that they found the process strengthened a sense of partnership between the public and private sectors. "We were pleased because the private sector was acknowledged and involved. We participated throughout and were consulted on the drafts," said John Kavuma, President of the Federation of Associations of Ugandan Exporters.

    The UEPB has reported a substantial increase in registered exporters since the start of the NES, attributed to the fact that the private sector is now much better informed about export opportunities and receives strong support from the UEPB and other trade support institutions (TSIs). The strategy has also helped rationalize the work of TSIs by enabling them to define better the roles and demarcation of responsibilities of stakeholders.

    Train a woman, a nation is trained

    The gender dimension of the NES is strengthening the economic role of women. This "has helped the visibility of women entrepreneurs", said Prisca Mashengyero of the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association (UWEAL).

    Some 40 per cent of privately owned companies in Uganda are owned by women. In considering the role of women in the economy, the Government revisited the NES in 2008. Its vision was to create a dynamic and competitive export sector with more participation by women. The Government again requested ITC's assistance and invited UWEAL to share their experience and proposals for action. Based on ITC's Gender-Sensitive Export Strategy Guidelines, the result was an 18-point plan that seeks, among other things, to:

    • Create long-term export financing accessible
      to women
    • Review and modernize the Land Act to give women better control and equality in land matters
    • Enhance rural women's capacity to increase volumes of production with better quality and prices
    • Develop and strengthen clusters for sectors that present high potential for women to export.

    Again, the private sector was totally engaged in the development of the NES's gender elements through working retreats, stakeholder meetings and a national symposium to validate the draft strategy. ITC is now working with the Ugandan authorities on three of the four gender priority sectors: coffee, commercial crafts and tourism.