PACIED roots for Ugandan exports to US

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PACIED roots for Ugandan exports to US
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The Africa Global Chamber of Commerce in Chicago in the state of Illinois in partnership with the Uganda Exports Advisory Committee (PACEID) on Friday hosted over 40 African American businesses in a drive to find buyers of Uganda's agricultural and mineral products and attract investment in Uganda’s food value chains.

The meeting which was attended by bankers, investment and finance, pharmaceutical firms, hospitality companies, leaders of the city of Chicago, representatives of the Illinois House of Representatives, faith leaders in the black community, and business people from the state of Detroit, was organized by Dr. Olivier Kamanzi, Uganda’s trade representative in the USA.

Ugandan diaspora led by the former President of the Uganda North American Association (UNAA) Ms. Henrietta Wamala Nairuba attended the meeting along with other Ugandans.

Speaking at the event on Friday evening, the chairman of PACEID, Odrek Rwabwogo gave the history of the relationship between the USA and Uganda in trade, said “Every business or country can compete on multiple fronts based on its resources and products but Uganda has a deeper point of difference it offers the world”.

This he said, “is the uniqueness of her centrality on the African market in both geography and free enterprise, market openness, skilled human resource easy to train for high-value production and the availability of raw materials to drive high growth industries such as semi-conductor chip making, electric vehicles and the emerging USD200bn health foods industry in the USA”.

Rwabwogo added, “We have had good leadership very much underestimated yet highly effective like your own Abraham Lincoln who saved your country from the curse of slavery and kept your union in 1864. Uganda’s current leadership has been so pivotal in shaping a stable and growing society in our region yet often misunderstood”. He gave an account of Uganda’s history praising President Yoweri Museveni and calling him ‘the Abraham Lincoln of Uganda who helped our country restore a sense of dignity and stability that we never had since 1962”.

President Yoweri Museveni attended the first trade and investment summit of the USA and Uganda in December 2022 in Chicago. Uganda’s coffee, vanilla, leather, fruits and banana flour companies exhibited at the event and took orders for supplies to the retail outlets in the Chicago area.

PACEID with a target of USD6bn in fresh revenues in exports has been opening markets, setting food safety standards, and working on infrastructure along with efforts to provide low-cost funding for exporting firms.

PACEID plans to open a trade hub with the Ugandan diaspora in the city of Chicago.

Dr. Kamanzi told the gathering, “I grew up in Switzerland and I had never been to Uganda till a year ago and I was blown off by the immense opportunity, the green of the country, its freshness and tastiness of the fruits, its game parks and how welcoming the people are. I think American companies can use Uganda as a base not just to process and export good agricultural products but also get higher returns in investment more than any parts of the world”.

Dr. Kamanzi, who is organizing the first Pan African trade, exports, culture and investment summit in Kampala in June this year, invited African American entrepreneurs like Mr. Robert Blackwell who is a manufacturer of table tennis equipment, Ms. Patricia Hanes of the Chicago Supplier Development Council, Mr. Larry Ivory, President of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Ousman Conteh, Vice President of the Chicago Hotels Association, Mr. Rifet Durmick Vice President of the BMO Bank and many others to plan their journey to Kampala and “see for yourselves the opportunity in Uganda”.

Mr. Blackwell, a leading African American entrepreneur in Chicago and a friend of former President Barack Obama, later held a private meeting with Odrek Rwabwogo and called for greater connection between Africa and African Americans.

He said, “Africa has not taken seriously the bonds of friendship and relations between the continent and their kin in the USA as partners in enterprise development and economic growth”.

He added that “corporations in India and China have done a good job connecting their people to the diaspora in the USA and Africa needs to take a cue”

The Commissioner of the Board of Cook County, one of the largest counties in the USA with a budget of over USD6.9bn, Ms. Donna Miller, spoke of the need for a stronger trade and cultural relationship between Uganda and the state of Illinois.

The Mayor of the City of Chicago who was represented by Aldermans William Hall and David Moore called for an education exchange program between Uganda and the city of Chicago.

The meeting was also attended by Cody Lorance, one of Uganda’s trade representatives in the USA who spoke about the Endiro Coffee experience trading in the USA in specialty coffees at a consumer level.

Endiro has a coffee outlet in the city of Aurora, an hour’s drive north of Chicago city.

PACEID team drove to the city of Aurora on Saturday to gain a better understanding of the coffee and other products retailing needs.

The PACEID team will be in Washington DC this week to follow through on trade commitments between Uganda and the USA and hold a conference at the national press club.

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