Economic Diplomacy as a Strategy of Bilateral Relations between Kenya and Uganda (2010-2020)
Kirui, Mary Cherono
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The three main East African countries (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) have pursued cooperation in various areas since gaining independence from the colonial masters. The cooperation has been expressed in social, economic, and security areas. This study will focus on Economic Diplomacy as a Strategy of Bilateral Relations between Kenya and Uganda. Kenya, being the region’s economic hub, seeks to pursue national interests through economic diplomacy. The study sought to explore whether and how Kenya has been using economic diplomacy as a tool of bilateral relations in its dealings with Uganda between the years 2010 and 2020. Specific objectives were to examine the nature of economic diplomacy, identify the effect of economic diplomacy on bilateral relations, and establish the interaction between the variables. The Interdependence Liberalism Theory was the study’s anchor, with an exploratory research design being applied. The research adopted a census sampling of the 43 employees drawn from the diplomatic missions in both the Kenyan and Ugandan High Commissions. Questionnaires were used in the collection of primary data, while intimal government reports and newsletters provided secondary data. The collected data were analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics. The qualitative data collected was analyzed using content analysis and presented in the form of charts, tables, and other infographics. The study garnered a 74% response rate. Analysis showed that intense bilateral and cultural relations between nationals of both countries moved freely to either country and carried out investment. The correlation tests established there existed a positive effect of the labour movement, foreign direct investment, goods, and service movement with bilateral relations. The study established there is a positive relation between economic diplomacy and bilateral relations between Kenya and Uganda. The research concluded that economic diplomacy has positively contributed to bilateral relations between the two nations. The research established that supporting the free movement of goods and services plays a vital role in fostering bilateral engagement and social welfare improvement. Further, having supportive trade policies is central to boosting regional relations between the countries. The research recommends that by supporting aggressive marketing between the two nations, there can be more coexistence between the nations. The study also recommends that both nations should advocate for increased trade negotiations which will improve trade volumes between the countries, and this can positively lead to better growth in regional relations. The study recommends that both nations should strive to minimize red tape and politics in investment matters and put in place a sound economic policy that will stimulate foreign direct investments. The research recommends that increased training of officers, negotiations, and implementation of agreements, joint verification on contentious issues, among others, as well as ensuring that commitments are duly implemented, strengthening communication, continuous training of diplomats will be critical to expanding bilateral relations. The study suggests that further studies can be conducted to examine how foreign direct investment and customs policies have affected economic growth.