KAMPALA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- China's easing of COVID-19 restrictions for international travelers has reignited hope among the Ugandan business community, which has argued that trade is going to boom after a three-year lull.
Starting Jan. 8, China canceled nucleic acid tests for international travelers after their arrival in China, even though inbound travelers to China are advised to take a PCR test within 48 hours before their departure.
Issa Sekito, the spokesperson for the Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA), told Xinhua in an interview Tuesday that the optimization of travel restrictions by China is going to enable Ugandan traders to go physically and import goods from China.
"As traders in Uganda we laud the Chinese government for lifting the quarantine for overseas people and even allowing our traders to physically import their goods, which will result in booming business for the two countries," Sekito said.
He said most of the traders made losses due to limited online orders and deliveries, adding that face-to-face trade is important to business people because they can order what they want instead of entirely depending on online trade.
"Already our traders are excited to go physically and import goods from China. They have been going through a lot of hurdles in terms of ordering online for the goods," he said.
Sekito said KACITA has always carried out sensitization to traders to ensure that before they travel overseas, they received all two doses of COVID-19 vaccines plus a booster.
He said traders are adhering to the government's anti-COVID direction, such as getting vaccinated.
Edith Nabatta, a trader who imports from China, told Xinhua by telephone that business is going to boom following the easing of travel restrictions to China.
Nabatta said she has been importing goods from China through online orders but sometimes her goods could be delayed and this affected her business. "Most of the small traders who buy goods we import from China expect us to be doing delivery after two weeks. But doing it online always took time. Now I am going to travel and make orders physically on the goods."
She said the restrictions had slowed down business, noting that the lifting of the protocols would bring business back to normal.
Chinese Ambassador to Uganda Zhang Lizhong in an article published on Jan. 6 said the COVID-19 situation in China was generally stable and controllable.
"That is why the Chinese government has announced that starting Jan. 8, COVID-19 will be managed with measures against class B instead of the more serious class A infectious disease, in accordance with the law," Zhang said. "For visitors to China, no COVID test will be mandatory upon arrival and no centralized quarantine will be required."
Scrapping of the restrictions comes at the right time for Uganda. Effective Dec. 1, 2022, the country started enjoying zero tariff treatment for 98 percent of taxable items to China, according to the Chinese embassy. The tariff waiver was part of the outcomes of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Senegal in 2021, according to Zhang.
He said the Chinese embassy is willing to help the Ugandan business community to meet the market requirement and specifications.
The trade volume between the two countries in 2021 amounted to 1.07 billion U.S. dollars, registering a 28.5 percent increase year on year, against the shock waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Chinese embassy figures. ■