South Sudan releases 26 impounded Ugandan trucks and cargo

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The Government of South Sudan has released the first 26 of the total 92 trucks impounded for more than a month inside the South Sudan border on allegations of high levels of aflatoxins in the grain cargo the trucks carried.

Odrek Rwabwogo, Chairman of the Exports and Industrial Committee (PACEID) who led the Uganda delegation in the talks held at the Nimule border post, thanked the Government of South Sudan for acting quickly to restore normalcy and ensure the smooth trade.

We must never allow interference with tradbecause it is fundamental to the sustenance of our two brother nations. If any of our people make mistakes, we must resolve this quickly and move. Please let the spirit of cooperation work for all of us as brothersAfrica cannot afford trade wars because our economies are small and we need to remove all barriers so that we grow enterprises. The private sector in East Africa cannot sustain any losses now as I have seen in the grain and flour sector of the last two months. We risk losing all the gainsmade in the post covid19 recovery. Whatever issues we have, we are brothers and we must learn to act quickly to save jobs of young people and serve customers” Rwabwogo told the meeting. 

Rwabwogo told the meeting he had broken the impasse by directly reaching out to the South Sudanese Minister of foreign affairs, Mr. Deng Dau Deng, minister for trade and Commerce, Kuol Athian Mawein, minister for security, Gen. Isaac Obuto Mete, Undersecretary of the ministry of trade, Mary Akech Nyira, Ambassador Simon Juach in Uganda, ahead of the Saturday meeting.

He said, “There is good ground for us to improve our trading relations with all our neighbors by communicating better, directly and transparently whatever the issues may obstruct us. They are after all our sisters and brothersHe added, “Conducting affairs on telephones without spot checks and inspections doesn’t help the private sector. This is why we drove here on a weekend to serve the private sector needs. If they lose, where will taxes come from?”

South Sudan delegation was led into the talks by Mr. Changkuoth Bichiok Reth, Chairman of the Economic Committee, Majak Deng Kuol, Deputy Chief Executive officer of the South Sudan National Bureau of Standards, Steven Jorbet of Trade and Commerce, Gartuak Riek of the National Revenue Agency of South Sudan. Others were Majak Deng and James Bor from the Ministry of foreign affairs of South Sudan.

Mr. Bichiok Reth said, “Traders need to have clear papers of origin for their cargo to make trade easier. They must desist from forging papers or sending goods with problems, especially aflatoxins. South Sudan has now developed testing capacity and will not tolerate bad food because it affects all of us Ugandans and South Sudanese.

South Sudan officials from the Ministries of Commerce, Finance and foreign affairs, national bureau of standards, customs, ministry of foreign affairs, and security agencies, agreed with the Uganda government and its private sector officials to harmonize communication and resolve matters faster.

The Uganda delegation included Ambassador Katureebe Tayebwa (ministry of foreign affairs), Abel Kagumire(Commissioner Customs), Emmanuel Atwiine (Ministry of Trade, industry, and Cooperatives), Mr. Anthony Kabuguudo(Uganda embassy in Juba), Humphrey Mutaasa, Jacob Kabondo, and Richard Sserwada who represented the grain councilmillers and exporters. Dr. Julius Byaruhanga, Martin Maku, and Kenneth Ayebale represented the Private Sector Foundation (PSFU).

Other members were Eng. Paul Musimani, Abubaker Bakulumpagi, Joseph Iberet, and Arthur Zabula from the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).

The meeting which was held in a very cordial mood characterized by the recognition of the historical, security, and economic relations between the two countries, was attended by a special independent EAC witness requested for by Uganda to oversee the exercise, Mr. Ramathan Mfala from Arusha secretariat. Uganda will retest the food at a common border facility overseen by EAC.

The meeting agreed all trucks currently held at the border be released immediately. The total number of trucks counted was 92 and the first 26 were released immediately in full view of the drivers and exporters.

The rest will be released this weekend.

The cargo will be offloaded and stored at the border in stores provided by URA to ease inspection and re-testing.

The meeting agreed to form an operational technical working committee composed of customs officials, foreign affairs, trade ministries, private sector exporters, the office of the President, and the bureaus of standards from both countries.

Uganda nominated Ambassador Katureebe,  HumphreyMutaasa, Matthew Bagonza, Abel Kagumire, Emmanuel Atwiine and John Paul MusimaniThe committee will meet weekly to resolve all emerging trade issues before they escalate. The outcomes of the committee will strengthen the work of the EAC non-tariff barriers monitoring committee and the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) between the two countries. 

 

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