European Union External Action

Uganda and the EU

The EU Delegation to Uganda supports the country’s efforts to proceed with electoral reforms, to defend human rights, promote democratic governance and fight corruption. The Delegation also supports the Ugandan government’s commitment to improving peace and security in the East Africa region.

The EU Ambassador represents the 28 EU Member States in Uganda. The EU Delegation also works closely with the ten EU Member States which have their own diplomatic presence in Uganda.

The relations between the EU and Uganda are mainly based on aid to development and trade. The political dialogue with the Government of Uganda is key to foster sustainable growth. The EU’s cooperation with Uganda aims to respond to the country's most pressing needs which include:

  • fostering sustainable development through sound economic policies and good governance,
  • improving national and regional transport connections, and
  • strengthening the agricultural sector and its potential and improving people’s livelihoods.

Besides the bilateral cooperation, Regional Economic Integration is identified as a priority area, under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Regional Indicative Programme (RIP) for Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean. It emphasis on the promotion of intra-regional trade, investment, productivity capacity and decent jobs creation, and improved economic infrastructures.

Uganda benefits from an EU initiative called the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP). Specifically, the country falls under the GSP arrangement known as "Everything But Arms", which grants duty-free access to imports of all products from Least Developed Countries – except weapons and ammunition.

Uganda is a member of the East African Community (EAC), which also includes Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi. The EAC has been a Common Market since 2010.

The EAC and the EU have negotiated an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to strengthen their trade and development corporation framework. The EPA aims also at bringing about reform to other trade-related areas such as competition policy, intellectual property, and investment and trade in services.

EU trade with Uganda

Overall, the EU remains Uganda’s main exporting market with a share of 26% of total exports.

In 2015 Uganda registered for the first time since 2005 a positive trade balance with the EU of Euro 2 million. The EU has been importing from Uganda proportionally more than exporting to Uganda since the last three years.

Imports are dominated by agricultural products (83% of the total) followed by fisheries (12%) and industrial (5%).

Imports of coffee (Euro 262 million or more than 50% of the total) increased by 15% in the last three years, cocoa by 60% becoming the fourth highest import (Euro 36 million), and tobacco by 15% (fifth highest at Euro 32 million), while fisheries (second highest at Euro 56 million) and cut flowers (third at Euro 47 million) slightly decreased. Although only 3% of the total, imports of other vegetables and fruits almost doubled at Euro 15 million in 2015.

The relations between the European Union and Uganda in terms of cooperation for development are guided by the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) National Indicative Programme (NIP) 2014-2020 (11th EDF-NIP).

The 11th EDF-NIP provides €578 million for the above mentioned period to help Uganda to respond to the country's needs and aspirations.

Through the EDF, the EU is providing Uganda support in the form of non-repayable grants for the following three thematic areas: Good Governance, Transport Infrastructure, Food Security and Agriculture. (See pages below for more details).

Work here involves:

  • Strengthening state functions relating to financial, democratic and social accountability;
  • Bolstering the oversight and control functions of the government executive;
  • Improving access to justice, protecting human rights and democracy, while strengthening investigative and legal institutions.

Funding are used to:

  • make the national transport system more sustainable, provide the necessary regulatory framework and reduce maintenance cost in rural areas.
  • continue the development of an efficient transport network, including waterways. Particular attention will be paid to connecting transport links with neighbouring countries, improving access in urban areas and optimising links between different forms of transport. 

Cooperation addresses three main issues:

  • Boosting the development and resilience of people in Northern Uganda, being it a fragile region in terms of both agricultural production and social cohesion.  
  • Promoting growth in agriculture by supporting the value chain across the country, and
  • Promoting the transition toward “green economy” through sustainable use of natural resources, so as to increase farmers'  resilience to climate change.
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