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Uganda Expects More Chinese Investors, Tourists to Boost Economy
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Uganda has been encouraging more investors from China to venture into its fast growing economy as the two countries strive to reduce the trade gap, a senior government official has said.

Gagawala Wambuzi, the Minister of State for Trade said in a recent interview with Xinhua that the Ugandan government is willing to see the growing trade between the two countries and more investment injected by Chinese companies.

"The trade relation is increasingly becoming stronger and stronger. There was a time we are not importing anything directly from China. Now we are importing directly from China to a tune of US$150 million," said Wambuzi.

"On the other hand, counter trade between Uganda and China has started increasing from zero to US$10 million now. We think this volume is going to increase radically very soon in favor of both parties," he added.

"We are very anxious for the Chinese enterprises to come and invest in areas that can help develop the economy," Wambuzi said, noting the two governments are working on the mechanism to reduce the trade imbalance by encouraging more Chinese investment in manufacturing sector.

Bilateral trade between China and Uganda, which started in the 1960s, reached nearly US$100 million in 2005, 12.8 percent up from the previous year, while Uganda's export to China has increased 71.8 percent to US$20 million and import from China increased 12.8 percent.

Within the framework of the Sino-Africa Cooperation Forum, China has exempted the tariff on certain commodities to 25 under- developed African countries, including Uganda, in a bid to further boost export of African products to Chinese market.

"By China accepting Ugandan products like coffee to access its market, tax free, indicates that China wants its relation with Uganda to grow. Uganda also wants the same," the minister said.

Many Chinese businessmen have come to Uganda to explore business opportunities following the visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to the country in June this year.

"The trade is bound to grow much bigger from this Sino-Africa Cooperation Forum summit to be held on November 3 in Beijing. What we are going to show and what Chinese are going to show us is going to be a big boost in every sector of relationship between China and Uganda.

"Uganda can benefit a lot if it can attract one million tourists per year from China. The Chinese menu is wide if we are to get people to invest in hotels; our peasants will grow to supply those hotels such that the Chinese tourists will be as comfortable as they are back home," Wambuzi said.

The minister also assured that Uganda will be fully prepared to receive Chinese tourists since it is to hold the Common Wealth Heads of Government Meeting late next year, in which some 10,000 delegates would rush in the country in just a week.

"Africa is welcoming China whole-heartedly, Uganda in particular. I think it is very important for the people in China to pick interest in visiting Uganda," Wambuzi said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 23, 2006)

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