Uganda blames coffee body withdrawal on harsh trade conditions
The Ugandan government said Friday it withdrew from an international coffee organization (ICO) agreement this month because of unfair tariffs and other barriers that restrict the export of processed coffee to Europe.
Africa’s second-largest coffee producer had previously not given a reason for pulling out of ICO’s 2007 International Coffee Agreement (ICA), leaving the preeminent intergovernmental body in charge of overseeing global coffee production and trade and fostering cooperation between producers and consumers.
The state-run Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) said in a statement that Uganda needs unconditional market access so that value-added coffee can be exported.
“The revised coffee agreement should pay more attention to value addition with protracted programs that transfer value to the farm gate.”
President Yoweri Museveni has long complained about unfair trade rules that, according to him, rob Uganda of value in commodities such as coffee.
As a result of aggressive planting programs that expanded the area covered by the crop, output in the East African country has increased in recent years.
According to data from the central bank, bean income is Uganda’s second-largest foreign exchange earner after gold.
In the 12 months ending Sept. 30 last year, Uganda exported 6.5 million 60kg bags and earned $630 million.
“The importing countries impose increasingly high tariffs and restrictions on value-added coffee imports,” the statement said, citing countries including Germany, Belgium, and Denmark.
“These barriers should be negotiated and removed, in order to create even more value for the Ugandan coffee sector.”
UCDA also emphasized Uganda’s opposition to the unjust and outdated ICO classification of coffee varieties in the international market, which only recognizes Brazilian and Colombian beans.