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Uganda and Democratic Republic
of Congo sign pact to ease trade       

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have agreed to remove non-tariff trade barriers in a bid to boost trade between the two African countries.

The agreement was reached during a Wednesday meeting attended by Uganda’s trade minister Amelia Kyambadde and DRC’s external trade minister Jean-Lucien Bussa Tongba in Uganda’s Kasese. Kasese hosts one of the major border trade points between Uganda and DRC called Mpondwe.

A joint communique signed by the two ministers said the meeting had reached an agreement to also enhance management and control of standards and quality as well as exchange of information and statistics.

Last year, the DRC had banned the importation of certain products such as drinks from Uganda, prompting traders at the border district to complain.

Following the meeting, there is hope that more goods will be allowed to cross the border line.

“The two ministers considered and approved the list of products for the Simplified Trade Regime (STR),” the communique said. STR was recently implemented by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in a bid to help the small traders to benefit from the preferential rates enjoyed by commercial traders when importing or exporting goods within member states.

Uganda’s exports to DRC reached 177 million U.S. dollars while it collects 2.5 million dollars from Congolese imports. Whereas Uganda exports lime and cement, iron and steel, cereals, vegetables and fruits, it brings in oils, cosmetics, iron and steel from DRC.

Last month, Uganda announced it had secured a loan from the World Bank to construct three modern markets across the border with DRC.

Uganda and DRC have in the past undertaken joint campaigns such as the fight against rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces.

Thousands of Congolese refugees have also found shelter in Uganda due to the ethnic clashes in eastern DRC.



Successful elections in DRC crucial to peace in Great Lakes: UN

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The United Nations said Tuesday that the successful elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was crucial to peace and stability in the wider Great Lakes region of Central Africa.

Credible and inclusive elections in the DRC, followed by a peaceful transfer of power, would have a positive effect on peace, stability and development in the wider Great Lakes region of Central Africa, speakers said as the Security Council debated regional developments that also included humanitarian concerns and the activities of armed groups.

Said Djinnit, special envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, urged the Council “to remain united” in its support for the implementation of the Dec. 31, 2016 political agreement among Congolese political leaders under which elections would be held on Dec. 23, 2018 for a successor to President Joseph Kabila.

“The Great Lakes was among Africa’s most volatile and complex regions, but it was also one that could make a meaningful contribution to the continent’s stability and development,” he said.

He encouraged the Council to keep urging the parties concerned to work toward the common goal of peace, stability and sustainable development for the region and its populations.

Ignace Gata Mavita wa Lufuta, permanent representative of the DRC to the UN, said the country is undoubtedly “the nerve center” of the Great Lakes region, adding that the task at hand is to help that country regain stability so it could become a catalyst for lasting peace in the wider region.

In that regard, he added, the international community must mobilize around regional efforts with strengthened coordination and cooperation.

In the ensuing debate, which followed the Council’s renewal on March 27 of the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), several speakers drew a link between the forthcoming elections and improving the lives of millions in the wider Great Lakes region.

Many drew attention to other challenges, too, including human rights abuses, the humanitarian situation in the east of the DRC and the flow of refugees and internally displaced persons.

French permanent representative to the UN, Francois Delattre, emphasized the importance of elections in the DRC and a peaceful handover of power, stating that regional stability is at stake.

Respect for human rights and the electoral calendar is key, he asserted, underscoring the role of regional organizations as well as the need to confront armed groups and the illicit trafficking in natural resources.

Also speaking were representatives of Britain, Russia, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Kuwait, Netherlands, Bolivia, Poland and Peru.


Democratic Republic of the Congo boycotts donors' conference in Geneva


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