Insights from the benchmarking mission to Istanbul on exports and cargo operations

The project team working on the Re-engineering Uganda’s Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Inspection of Horticulture Exports (RUSH) project, which is supported by the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation through its implementing partner, Swisscontact, identified Turkish Airlines as a key player in the export cargo space. Turkish Airlines is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world. It is the national carrier airline of Turkey. Currently, it operates scheduled services to 340 destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, making it the largest mainline carrier in the world in terms of the number of passenger destinations. The team fostered a partnership with the Turkish Airlines, to learn from, and possibly adapt learned practices within the Ugandan export community.

The 5-day long benchmarking mission, jointly organized by the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation and Swisscontact in partnership with Turkish Airlines in Istanbul in November 2022, involved selected partners from both the Government of Uganda (Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry & Fisheries) and the private sector. The selected participants are very actively involved in day-to-day export matters, and the Ministry officials specifically support trade and export activities. It was one of the key milestones of the RUSH Project as this benchmarking and training mission marked the concluding phase of the Training of Trainers in the sector.

During the mission, participants were trained in cargo operations, met with a representative from the Turkish Exporters Assembly, Huseyin Gok, the Asian Pacific Regional Coordinator, and visited the Turkish Airlines Cargo section, where the team appreciated the advanced and efficient processes; especially the high levels of automation and technological advancement. With this valuable knowledge from the training in Cargo Operations, the participants will be able to disseminate, and thus further build the capacity of other actors in the export chain (exporters, inspectors, cargo handlers, and many others), which in turn will facilitate the improvement of the export process in Uganda, potentially resulting time and cost reductions related to exports.

The hosts also arranged for the team to meet with the Turkish Exporters Assembly representative, where the team obtained a great understanding, overview, and insight into the success of Turkish export industries. The project hopes this mission could also prove a springboard for the Ugandan Government and the private sector to strengthen partnerships and explore new collaborative opportunities with Turkey.  The Turkish Exporters Assembly has built an impressive export ecosystem, particularly in the areas of digitalization and sustainability, as well as an internal enabling environment.

The meeting included discussions on the successes and challenges of the export sectors in Turkey and how they can collaborate and support the export sector in Uganda, especially the horticulture export value chain. Further collaboration could potentially result in increased imports of Uganda’s fruits and vegetables to Turkey.  

The experience during the mission involved a great week full of learning, experience-gathering, sharing and networking. The challenge now is for the participating team to transfer the skills learned and knowledge gathered back to Uganda to help rebuild and improve the country’s export industry and cargo handling operations.

Thank you, Turkish Airlines, for being a wonderful host!

Bangladesh, Uganda, Cambodia
Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation
The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation is a public-private partnership for trade-led growth, supporting governments in developing and least-developed countries in implementing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. By bringing together governments and businesses of all sizes as equal partners to deliver targeted trade reforms, the Alliance cuts through red tape and end costly delays at borders.