President Yoweri Museveni promised to raise the concerns of Ugandans doing business or working in China with the country’s President Xi Jinping with the view to removing obstacles that frustrate Ugandans working there.
Museveni made the pledge while speaking to a cross-section of Ugandans at our Embassy in China.
The Wednesday meeting, attended by about 100 Ugandans, was held at the Uganda embassy’s gardens in Beijing.
President Museveni said he would raise complaints with the Chinese leader including the high taxes imposed by the Chinese government on Uganda’s roasted coffee and licensing of Ugandan teachers of English language.
Ntumwa Birimumaso, the proprietor of Ubuntu Cafe, a company that exports Ugandan coffee to China, told Museveni that the high taxes placed on roasted coffee beans are crippling his efforts ‘yet they would fetch more money than green beans.’
“I began my company in 2016 and we process coffee into powder which we sell to Chinese shops. Currently we sell about four tonnes monthly. However the high taxes both in Uganda and China are limiting our growth. We also need capital to expand,” he said.
Birimumaso, a graduate of petroleum engineering from the Petroleum University of China, said he was an engaging partner and next month (October) he would export 20 tonnes of coffee.
He added that China presented a lot of opportunities for agro-business and urged the government to support potential investors in that area.
Ivan Kagimu, the proprietor of the New Vision Education Training School, which has nine branches in Shanghai city, asked the President to make a case for qualified teachers of English language to be certified by the Chinese government.
He said currently, Ugandans are not treated as indigenous English language speakers, which disadvantages them when it comes to teaching opportunities in China.
Kagimu also requested the government to support an initiative by Chinese investors who are willing to set up vocational training schools in Uganda with a bias towards industrial training.
In his remarks, the President promised to raise the two issues (taxation and teachers certification) with his host, President Xi Jinping, at a meeting scheduled for Thursday.
Museveni said “President Ji Xing actually touched on the issue of taxing value-added products when he spoke to us at the just-concluded Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). I will raise it with him,” said Museveni.
“I also agree that our Bazukulu speak very good English. I will speak to President Xi on how they can be recognized and allowed to teach here,” he added.
Museveni, who has been part of African leaders attending FOCAC, also commended Maria Nakaweesi, a Ugandan running a freight and logistics company in Guangzhou city.
The President promised to help her set up a warehouse in Kampala to facilitate trade especially for Ugandan exports to China after she complained of high storage charges.
President Museveni also directed the government to help Wilson Sonko’s sheer butter enterprise, where he supplies the product to China.
The President said it should begin with a scientific study of the medicinal and other values of the product, get a patent and regularize its export.
On the request of the leader of Ugandan students in China, Timothy Mukisa, the President offered the association $20,000 to cover their activities for one year.
The President also directed the Ambassador, Dr Crispus Kiyonga, to strengthen the trade research desk at the embassy, after the Chairman of the Uganda-China Forum, Benedict Kanjako, asked for a desk to help study the business opportunities in China.