Uganda is becoming increasingly dependent on the import of capital through loans and grants, the import of services, and of manufactured goods. The value of imports was consistently double the value of exports throughout the 1990s, and in 1999 the ratio of imports to exports came close to being 3 times in size. Apart from cash-crops such as tea and coffee ( see Agriculture rubric above), Uganda's principal exports in 1998 were US$39.9 million of fish and fish products, US$47.4 million of iron and steel, and US$47.2 million worth of electrical machinery and supplies. It should be noted that the EU banned the import of fish from Uganda between 1999 and mid-2000 as some supplies were poisonous; although this ban has now been lifted this event seems likely to effect future sales. The main recipient of these exports in 1998 was the EU, which received 50.9 percent of the total; broken down individually, the key countries were the Netherlands, which imported 6.3 percent, Switzerland (6.2 percent), Germany (5 percent), and Belgium (3.7 percent). Other key export-partners are the United States which regularly receives around 25 percent, and Kenya which received 4.6 percent in 1998.
Uganda's imports in 1998 consisted of US$130.3 million of road vehicles, US$111.6 million of petroleum,
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Uganda|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
US$72.4 million in cereals, and US$53.65 million of medical goods and pharmaceuticals. These imports were predominantly sourced from the EU, which supplied 17.3 percent (the United Kingdom being the main partner, providing 5.6 percent), neighboring Kenya supplied 12.3 percent, Japan 4.5 percent, and India 4.1 percent. The countries of East Africa have been trying to create a meaningful intra-regional trade organization since the 1960s. The signing of the East African Cooperation (EAC) treaty between Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya in 1999 was a continuation of this historic aim; however, in practice little has been done to reduce tariffs . Uganda is also a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which in 1996 introduced an 80 percent tariff reduction on trade within COMESA countries; by 2001 Uganda was one of the only members to implement this reduction in full.