By: Ismael Kasooha
President Yoweri Museveni has asked the French Government and European Union countries in general to tackle the trade imbalance that exists between Uganda and the developed countries of Europe.
“There is need to remove all trade barriers that prevent Ugandan goods on to the European market because our trade is tilted in favor of the developed countries which is unfair,” said Robinah Nabbanja the prime minister of Uganda.
Nabbanja made the remarks on Thursday evening while speaking as chief guest during the National Day of France held to commemorate the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress for political prisoners and freeing them.
Nabbanja who represented President Yoweri Museveni at the event said that although there are cordial relations between France and Uganda, there is a need to increase the volume and value of our exports to the EU.
The function took place at the residence of the French Ambassador in Uganda, His Excellency Jules-Armand Aniambossou, in Nakasero Kampala.
“We need to increase trade between the two countries. But most importantly we need to address the trade imbalance that exists,” Museveni said.
The President said that when Uganda got independence in 1962, France was at hand to support the young nation sharing its long history of independence.
The President lauded French companies in Uganda that have invested in key sectors of Uganda’s economy and helped create jobs, pay taxes, and support the socio-economic transformation of our country.
“We would like to increase the volume and value of our exports into the French and European markets. Our edible oils, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, coffee, and tea are abundant for the French people to enjoy”.
“We request you to open your markets, remove any trade barriers, and allow your people to enjoy the best fruits and food from the Peal of Africa. We have launched the Parish Development Model, we want to add value, supply France and widen our markets,” the message read in part.
The day is held to commemorate the 233rd anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress on 14th July 1789.
The freeing of political prisoners from the fortress was the turning point for setting up the French Republic.
“Uganda’s strategic objective is promotion of regional and international peace, as you are aware, in many parts of the Great Lakes Region conflicts are still existent,” said Nabbanja.
She said that these conflicts continue to displace persons from their homes and the rate of influx of refugees to Uganda is unprecedented with the current figure close to 1.5 million refugees within the Ugandan boarders. Uganda is ready and willing to work with all partner States in solving this regional challenge.
“In this regard, we welcome your engagement in matters of peace & security in the region and in particular, our bilateral cooperation in the training of troops in the Rwenzori region,” she said.
The French Ambassador to Uganda His Excellency Jules-Armand Aniambossou lauded Uganda for the good working relations and pledged continued support.
Aniambossou said that France will one day be part of the African Union because of the aims and objectives which are similar with those of the French government.
The function that took place on Thursday evening was graced by members of the diplomatic corps, ministers, Member of Parliament among others.
The prime minister proposed a toast for the good health, prosperity and long life of His Excellency Emmanuel Macron, the President and the people of France for the continued mutual relationship between Uganda and France.
The Bastille fortress, located in Paris, was a notorious state prison used by the French kings in the 18th century. Uganda’s history, like that of the French, witnessed periods of bad rule, hence the country joined the French in this celebration.
Political prisoners and citizens were held at the Bastille on the orders of the king. Similarly, citizens were detained there at the whims of bad French leaders.