Vice President Hamid Ansari termed business ties of India with Uganda “dynamic” and key to bilateral relations but said the trade between the countries is yet to reach its “true” potential.
Ansari was speaking at an India-Uganda Business Forum where he met President Yoweri Museveni and Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi and held bilateral talks with them.
“Our commercial and business ties with Uganda are dynamic and form a key pillar of our bilateral relations. It is a matter of satisfaction that India is one of the largest trade partners of Uganda but at USD 615 million, our bilateral trade is yet to reach its true potential,” Ansari said.
At the forum, Ssekandi pitched for greater investment from Indian companies in the resource-rich country, and termed his country as a “business destination for India”.
“I came away from that meeting with a reinforced confidence in the desire of the two governments to continue to engage with each other and a send a powerful message to the business community in both of our countries that here are the business opportunities which have to be availed of,” he said.
“The President was particularly emphatic in pointing out that the Indian manufacturers in a wide range of areas can benefit very considerably, and what the minister (of Trade and Industry, Uganda) said a few minutes back, my factoring in the thought that they are not looking at a modest market in Uganda only, but on a much wider market of the Eastern African community and surrounding areas,” he said.
“So, you are looking at the market of not just 28 or 30 million people (Uganda) but 350 million people (East Africa),” he said.
Ansari met Museveni in the afternoon and the two leaders held talks on a wide gamut of bilateral issues. The two leaders discussed that automobile companies should think manufacturing and assembling vehicles in Uganda, rather than sending them as finished products.
“This thought (wider East African market) has to sink-in because many of the things which are manufactured in India and transported here can just as well be manufactured here. This is the message I am taking back, I and my delegation to the government and the business in India, and this is something on which we are going to work together jointly for mutual benefit,” Ansari said on the penultimate day of his three-day visit to Uganda.