Boosting Trade Efficiency: China and Uganda Launch AEO Mutual Recognition Agreement

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Multilines International Limited, an East African Authorized Economic Operator (AEO), was invited the
esteemed attendees at the recent launch of the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between
China and Uganda. The event, held on June 1st, 2023, marked a significant milestone in strengthening
bilateral trade ties and facilitating smoother customs procedures between the two nations.
The event featured notable speakers, including Mr. James Malinzi, Assistant Commissioner Customs
Audit, URA. Malinzi highlighted the importance of the MRA, which was signed in May 2021, and its
impact on trade facilitation. He disclosed that Uganda currently boasts 118 AEOs, while China has
over 5,000 registered AEOs. Recognizing the significance of AEOs in streamlining trade, he announced
that importers will enjoy priority clearance for AEO companies, ensuring expeditious processing of
goods exported between the two countries.
Commissioner Customs at URA, Abel Kagumire, emphasized the crucial role AEOs play in Uganda’s
revenue collection, contributing a substantial 26% to URA’s overall revenue. Kagumire urged local
industries to add value to key export commodities such as timber, coffee, marble, and cocoa, enabling
the exportation of finished products. This value addition would enhance Uganda’s competitiveness in
international markets.
H.E. Ozhang Lizhong, Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, expressed optimism about the implementation
of the MRA, underscoring the exchange of lists between AEO companies in both nations. He
emphasized the tremendous advantages the MRA brings, including expedited customs clearance,
estimated to improve clearance speed by 60% compared to previous procedures. Additionally, the
MRA is expected to save 10% in logistics costs, leading to enhanced trade efficiency.
Highlighting the growth potential, Ambassador Lizhong revealed that bilateral trade volume between
China and Uganda rose by 6.6% in 2022, reaching a substantial $1.14 billion USD. Furthermore, he
acknowledged China’s recent decision to grant zero-tariff treatment for 98% of taxable items
imported from Uganda, further boosting Uganda’s export of value-added products to the Chinese
market. In line with promoting tourism and investment, discussions are underway for the
establishment of a new direct flight between Entebbe and Guangzhou, with hopes of actualization
within a month.
Rubagumya Patience, Acting Commissioner General of URA, emphasized the importance of utilizing
tax revenues for economic development rather than relying on external borrowing. To achieve this,
she stressed the need for closer cooperation between customs and domestic taxes to facilitate
seamless trade operations. Faster clearance of goods through the MRA would attract more business
and contribute to accelerated economic growth. Patience highlighted tourism, agriculture, oil, and gas
as priority sectors for government support, aiming to attract increased investment.
For Multilines International, the MRA is envisioned to create a ripple effect across various sectors in
the trading community particularly the oil and gas, tourism, and construction sectors
, leading to improved economic conditions in the community.


Victor Otieno

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