Bahrain – Uganda’s Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa has asked the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) member states to remove all non-tariff barriers, saying that they are a hindrance to the entry of goods, especially from developing countries.
Addressing the 146th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Manama, Bahrain on Monday, Tayebwa listed bottlenecks that are hampering the growth of some IPU member states.
“We call upon the developed world to remove non-tariff barriers that are blocking the entry of goods, especially from developing countries. Sometimes your supermarket shelves are empty when we have fruits, vegetables, and other agricultural products rotting in our countries,” he said.
Currently, the IPU comprises 178 Member Parliaments and 13 Associate Members.
Non-tariff barriers are such restrictions that result from prohibitions, conditions, or specific market requirements that make the importation or exportation of products difficult and or costly. Such include unjustified state restrictions, a complex regulatory environment in some areas while it does not exist in other areas, and additional trade documents, among others.
Non-tariff barriers arise from different measures taken by governments in form of laws, regulations, policies, conditions, and restrictions that protect domestic industries from foreign competition.
Tayebwa challenged the developed world to work with developing countries to add value to their products.
In the coffee industry with revenues of $460bn, he said coffee-producing countries earn only $25bn with Africa earning $2.5bn while Uganda which is Africa’s largest coffee exporter earns only $820M annually.
“This hemorrhage of our resources has kept us in poverty, at the mercy of the western world giving us aid and loans. We need more partnerships and fair trade than loans and aid. As parliaments, we can and should ensure this stops,” he added.
Tayebwa also urged Parliaments to review and strengthen laws and policies to protect minority rights and prevent discrimination; establish institutions to protect the rights of minorities but urged them to vehemently resist global pressures and trends that usurp their cultures and beliefs.
“We should make laws that fit in our societies, not societies to fit in our laws. We must not let global pressures and trends usurp our cultures and beliefs. That is why for us in Uganda we are wary of western trends that are in total conflict with our communities. We strongly condemn the promotion of LGBTQ activities targeting our children who are not able at a young age to discern what is good from bad. They are not able to understand that all that glitter is not gold. That is why we are in the process of making a law that protects our children and families from such promoted vices,” the deputy speaker said.
Meanwhile, Tayebwa also held talks with IPU President Duarte Pacheco and stressed the need to put an end to all non-tariff barriers.
He said most of the conflicts especially in Africa are due to poverty surging levels.
“We are concerned as the developing world on unfair trade practices, especially from the developed world. Our products are kept moving as raw materials because when you try to process, you don’t meet the stringent conditions set up by the Europeans and the other western powers,” he said, requesting the IPU President to join Africa in calling for fair trade practices.
Tayebwa also informed him that Uganda plays a key role in the great lakes region especially in overseeing peace and security.
“Uganda is among the countries which are working hard to pacify Somalia and Somalia is now standing on the soldiers of Uganda. We have done the same in South Sudan,” he said, adding that Uganda wants to reassure of its commitment to playing its role as far as promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region and Africa is concerned.
The IPU President, Mr. Duarte Pacheco commended Tayebwa for the active participation of Uganda in the global parliament.
Mr. Pacheco asked Uganda to do all it can to calm the tensions in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The IPU President also said fair trade is on top of his agenda and said he will do all he can to achieve this before his term ends in October 2023.