Museveni asks Indian automobile manufacturers to "make in Uganda"

Updated - February 23, 2017 10:21 am IST

Published - February 23, 2017 01:10 am IST - Kampala

New tie-up:  Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni in Entebbe  on Wednesday.

New tie-up: Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni in Entebbe on Wednesday.

Vice-President Hamid Ansari held bilateral talks with Ugandan President Y.K. Museveni on the first official day of his visit to the country, agreeing broadly on cooperation in the fields of vocational training, space technology and peaceful uses of atomic energy.

Mr. Ansari said the talks covered the whole gamut of issues under the bilateral relationship.

“We have agreed to expand cooperation in the energy sector, training of personnel for space research and peaceful uses of atomic energy,” he said at a joint press conference at the end of the talks held at State House, official residence of President Museveni.

Trade balance

Mr. Museveni did, however, put Indian automobile manufacturers on notice by announcing that the East African nation would soon be ending import of assembled automobiles.

While admitting that the trade balance was in favour of India (Indian exports are projected to stand at $326.67 million this year compared with Ugandan exports to India at $46.7 million), Mr. Museveni was keen that automobile manufacturers assembled vehicles in Uganda, creating the much-needed jobs. “It is true that bilateral trade is in favour of India, but that will now change. I have already held talks with Volvo to move their assembly plant from Mombasa (Kenya) to Uganda, and have also initiated talks with Mercedes. In today’s talks, I have asked Vice-President Ansari to alert Indian automobile manufacturers that they can get in early,” he said.

India’s exports to Uganda include pharmaceuticals, bicycles, bicycle parts, automobile components, two-wheelers, tyres and agro-processing machinery.

Responding to a question on apprehensions of the Indian community about investing in the country, after the regime of Idi Amin who expelled nearly 80,000 Ugandan-Indians in 1972, he said the Indians who fled were Ugandans first and they were returning.

‘Expulsion a mistake’

“The Indian government has nothing to with that [expulsion of Ugandan-Indians]. Those Indians were an issue between Uganda and the United Kingdom, even [the then Indian Prime Minister] Indira Gandhi said the same at that time. It was our mistake ... our Indians whom we expelled who ended up enriching the U.K. and Canada. After I took over, however, I asked them to come back and some like Jay Mehta and Mayur Madhvani did. The rest are also coming back,” he said.

There is, at present, a 30,000-strong Indian community in Uganda that is heavily invested in the economy of the country. They pay the lion’s share of taxes to the Ugandan exchequer.

The India-Uganda Business Forum, organised by members of the Indian community in Uganda along with FICCI, also held a meeting.

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