Uganda’s revenue from export processing zones rose to a record high of $1.2 billion in 2020 from $154 million last year, a new report reveals.
The Uganda Free Zones report Authority shows that for two consecutive years, semi-processed gold was the engine of exports, accounting for 93 percent of the total $1.1 billion in export earnings.
Floral and horticultural exports ranked second and accounted for 3.7 percent of exports at $46 million. Tobacco ranked third, accounting for 3.1 percent of exports at $38 million, the report shows.
Wheat flour exports fell 65 percent to $1 million in 2020 $4 million in 2019.
< p> Sandalwood essential oils brought the country $730,000 in 2020, up from $299,000 in 2019, while cocoa bean exports brought in $160,000. Underground natural calcium phosphates brought in the least export earnings at $5,000.
Hez Kimoomi Alinda, Executive Director of Uganda Free Zones Authority, said the positive performance in 2020 was due to increased mineral and raw materials attributed to tobacco processing and export.
“Simba Gold Refinery Limited, M/s Metal Testing and Smelting Limited and Aurnish Trading Limited were leading exporters in the 2020-21 financial year, accounting for 93 per cent of all export earnings accounted for from free zones,” he said.
Other major exporters in 2020 included M/S Alliance One Tobacco Uganda, which grows and processes tobacco leaf in the Nilus Free Zone and exports through the Port of Mombasa .
< p>The report showed that the United Arab Emirates remained the main destination for exports from free zones, with a significant increase from US$106.4 million in the previous year to US$1.16 billion in 20 20, most of it from the gold trade.
Exports to the UAE accounted for 93 percent of the total from zones trade. The Netherlands ranked second in 2020 with a contribution of US$39 million, mainly from flower exports.
“Other important destinations for exports from the free zones were Kenya (US$19 million), Belgium ($6 million), Turkey ($2 million), Germany ($2 million), Italy ($2 million), USA ($1.9 million), Russia ($1.5 million) and South Sudan $1.2 million,” he said.
Uganda also exported to Indonesia, South Africa and Tunisia, South Korea, Ukraine, Japan, Hungary, Norway, Kuwait, Ghana and Poland.
< p>Mr. Alinda noted that the free trade zone generated US$32 million with M/s Wagagai and M/s Rosebud Limited being the leading flower exporters in 2020, with the two free zones combined generating US$20 million in export revenue .