Uganda’s overall export receipts for the month of April dropped, dragged down by sharp declines in the volumes of gold and the country’s top traditional forex earner coffee.
This is despite a rise in vanilla, sugar and maize exports, according to the Performance of the Economy report, a monthly tracker produced by the Ministry of Finance.
The report released last week shows that total gold exports dropped to 2.2 tonnes in April from 8.6 tonnes in March. Gold fetched Uganda $549 million in 2018 from $339 million the previous year.
In March this year, Kampala exported gold worth $363 million — the biggest monthly haul— that saw the country register a trade surplus with the East African Community, the rest of Africa and Europe. In April, however, gold earnings dropped to $88.6 million. Coffee, Uganda’s top crop export, also declined to 306,315 60kg-bags in April, from 348,230 bags in March. The volume of beans exports also dropped to 4.2 tonnes, from 7.1 tonnes.
Within the EAC bloc, Kenya remains Uganda’s main trading partner. Overall exports to the EAC declined 9.8 per cent in the year ending April 2019 to $86.79 million, from $96.22 million in April 2018.
“During the month of April 2019, the Middle East was the main destination for Uganda’s exports, followed by the East African Community,” the report reads.
The Finance Ministry attributed the decline in trade with the EAC to a drop in exports to Rwanda following the closure of the Uganda-Rwanda border at Gatuna and Chanika in February, which affected the movement of cargo trucks. While Rwanda recently reopened the Gatuna border for two weeks, trade did not pick up.
Uganda’s total export earnings from Rwanda stood at $212 million in 2018. Major goods exported are cereals, ceramics, raw hides and skins, edible vegetables, roots and tubers, machinery, coffee, tea, iron and steel, essential oils, cosmetics and milk.