By JULIUS BARIGABA(The East African)
As the ongoing border spat between Uganda and Rwanda escalates, Kampala is accusing Kigali of imposing non-tariff barriers to trade between the two countries.
Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa said on Wednesday that Rwanda has introduced an export permit system for those who intend to export goods to Uganda.
“This is a technical and non-tariff barrier to trade, to which there has been no successful applicant. In effect, this is a trade embargo,” Mr Kutesa said.
The border crisis started on February 28 when the Rwanda Revenue Authority announced the closure of the Katuna border post, ostensibly to allow the completion of the one-stop border post.
Rwanda further issued an advisory to its nationals against travel to Uganda, saying it was a measure to ensure their security and safety, as relations between the two neighbours hit a new low.
Ugandan Customs officials and traders at all border points say that goods from Uganda, especially foodstuffs, have been blocked from Rwanda.
And Mr Kutesa on Wednesday said that exportation of Ugandan goods to Rwanda had been prohibited. Rwanda authorities, he said, were only allowing trucks carrying transit goods destined for the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries.
The minister said that Kigali was blocking goods and Rwanda-registered trucks from crossing into Uganda.
The flow of traffic between Uganda and Rwanda has continued at the Cyanika, Katuna and Mirama Hills border points and Mr Kutesa says Kampala is committed to free movement of persons and goods across border, in line with its obligations under regional and continental frameworks.
Official statistics show that Cyanika border post has processed 41 transactions since February 28, while the partially closed Katuna border post had processed 85 transactions – mainly comprising light vehicles. Mirama Hills has processed the highest number of transactions — 311 — mainly cargo trucks bound for Rwanda.
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