Trading with neighbours: Understanding Uganda-South Sudan business community trade relations

This report examines the realities of trade relations between business communities in Uganda and South Sudan. It provides an overview of the trade activities, actors, opportunities and challenges involved, along with an insight into the impact of the current South Sudan conflict and the proposed interventions to harness business for peace.

Following the 2005 peace agreement between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), there was a huge trade boom between Uganda and South Sudan. Yet this has been hindered by ongoing trade conflicts between the business communities of the two nations and ongoing fighting within South Sudan.

This report therefore provides targeted recommendations to business and traders associations, civil society, the governments of Uganda and South Sudan, financial institutions and the media. These are aimed at remedying these adverse trade issues and practices, in an effort to create a more conducive trading atmosphere for cross-border business communities in the region.

It is the result of a fact-finding mission to South Sudan’s capital city of Juba in November 2013, led by International Alert and including representatives from the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UNCCI). It is also based on information gathered from a separate field study conducted by a lead consultant in northern Uganda (Arua, Koboko and Nebbi districts) and at Arua Park in Kampala City in January 2014.

The impetus for the study emerged from previous media reports of business malaise, which included constant harassment and unfair treatment of Ugandan traders in South Sudan.