Uganda flag Uganda: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Uganda

Foreign Trade in Figures

Uganda is open to foreign trade, which accounts for 34.8% of its GDP (World Bank). The country is a member of numerous international organisations, such as the WTO, COMESA, EAC (East African Community), ESAAMLG (anti-money laundering group in Eastern and Southern Africa), and IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority for the Development of the Horn of Africa States). The country mainly exports gold (43.8%), coffee (12.4%), cocoa beans (2.4%), tea (1.9%), and petroleum oils (1.9%). Its main imports are gold (22.3%), petroleum oils (11.3¨%), medicaments (3.6%), palm oil (3.3%), and motor cars (2.2%).

Uganda's main trading partners are the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, China, India,Tanzania, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Italy. The country's trade policy aims to encourage cooperation and integration in East Africa to stimulate production and increase export earnings. Tariffs are not very high and the country has few non-tariff barriers to trade. However, corruption and underdeveloped infrastructure remain major obstacles to trade. The political situation in South Sudan, one of the country's main trading partners with Kenya, continues to affect trade flows. Besides, weak global growth, affected by trade tensions between the United States and China and stagnant growth in Europe, may negatively impact Ugandan exports. The wealth of natural resources, the improvement of national security, and the return of Indo-Ugandan entrepreneurs in exile are factors favouring foreign trade.

Uganda's trade balance is structurally in deficit. In 2020, exports of goods amounted to USD 4.14 billion, while imports reached USD 2.25 billion, resulting on a negative trade balance of USD 4.1 billion. As for services, exports reached USD 882 million, while imports amounted to USD 3 billion. Imports of goods and services should remain high in the coming years due to investment in major infrastructure projects, food needs, and economic growth, which have boosted demand for consumer goods.

 
Foreign Trade Values 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 5,0995,5966,7297,5188,251
Exports of Goods (million USD) 2,5432,9013,0873,4774,149
Imports of Services (million USD) 2,2712,0482,5282,6533,004
Exports of Services (million USD) 1,6061,3751,6101,752882

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 31.336.836.739.634.8
Trade Balance (million USD) -1,597-1,714-2,458-2,757n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,708-2,122-3,013-3,416n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -8.82.58.47.0-9.7
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 2.934.29.34.33.3
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 18.920.221.622.419.7
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 12.516.715.117.215.0

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20212022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 19.75.66.07.40.6
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 10.71.420.29.811.0

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Member of COMESA - Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa

Member of EAC - East African Community

Member of Cotonou Agreement

Member of African Growth and Opportunity Act beneficiary country

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2020
United Arab Emirates 44.5%
Kenya 11.2%
South Sudan 8.6%
Democratic Republic of Congo 6.4%
Italy 3.3%
See More Countries 25.9%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2020
China 16.4%
India 11.6%
Kenya 9.4%
Tanzania 9.0%
United Arab Emirates 6.0%
See More Countries 47.6%

Source: Comtrade, 2021. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

Main Products

4.2 bn USD of products exported in 2020
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 43.8%
Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated;...Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated; coffee husks and skins; coffee substitutes containing coffee in any proportion 12.4%
Cocoa beans, whole or broken, raw or roastedCocoa beans, whole or broken, raw or roasted 2.4%
Tea, whether or not flavouredTea, whether or not flavoured 1.9%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 1.9%
See More Products 37.6%
8.3 bn USD of products imported in 2020
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 22.3%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 11.3%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 3.6%
Palm oil and its fractions, whether or not refined...Palm oil and its fractions, whether or not refined (excl. chemically modified) 3.3%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.2%
See More Products 57.3%

Source: Comtrade, 2021. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2021. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: April 2022