This is why the Serbia-Uganda trade deal makes perfect sense

By Odrek Rwabwogo, Chair of Uganda’s Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development, and Bratislav Stoiljković, Uganda’s trade representative to southeastern Europe

The agreement signed between the two countries in Belgrade last week has breathed new life into a little-known but in fact, long-standing and increasingly fruitful partnership, Odrek Rwabwogo and Bratislav Stoiljković write.

It’s not often you see an African leader travel to southeastern Europe on a state visit.


Yet, just last week, President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni met his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vučić, officially opening Uganda’s new, Belgrade-based trade hub, and signing a number of agreements promoting trade between the two countries.

For agriculture-dominated Uganda, aggressive growth of export revenue has been identified as critical to its economic recovery and the ultimate goal of the East African country’s further industrialisation. Serbia has emerged as an important, if at first look surprising, partner of choice.

Typically, when it comes to trade, African countries tend to focus their efforts on places such as the UK or the EU, with whom many have long-established links. And this is not that different at all. 

Uganda’s “new” pitch toward Serbia is no such thing. In fact, the two countries already enjoy long-standing ties reaching back to the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which Serbia — as part of the former Yugoslavia — helped to found, and of which Uganda takes up the chairmanship later this year.

From the Non-Aligned to the Open Balkan

The movement has been going through a revival in recent years, as many countries wish to stay neutral and outside of the increasingly polarising power struggles between the East and the West. 

To such countries, NAM offers both a safe haven and a network that dates back to the Cold War era, and today represents a ready-made club of shared connections.

Serbia also offers a unique gateway to markets for so long inaccessible to Africa. In a unique position of holding Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with the EU, Turkey, and the UAE, the Balkan country offers a unique entry point for Ugandan products such as coffee, fresh produce and cocoa. 

The regional “mini-Schengen” initiative, Open Balkan, that Serbia is a part of, only expands the market potential further. 

Once a direct transport link between Belgrade and the Ugandan key transportation hub Entebbe is established — which Air Serbia and Uganda Airlines intend to do through a codeshare agreement next year — there will be a new, direct commercial and cargo route from Africa to Europe and onwards to all of Serbia’s regional FTA partners.

There are also business opportunities for Serbia in the opposite direction. 

Uganda has one of the world’s fastest-growing media markets, powered by a population with a median age of 17. Serbia’s media sector and film and TV industry dominate the Balkan region but have little room to expand there. 


There is a construction and infrastructure boom in Belgrade, and similarly in Uganda where Serbian companies such as Energoprojekt dating back to Yugoslav times are already well established.

Complementary economies and EU import tariffs

Moreover, Uganda is a complementary economy to Serbia, meaning the two produce things that the other does not and cannot. 

The climate in Serbia doesn’t allow you to grow a single pineapple, banana, or coffee bean any time of the year. In Uganda, these products can grow all year round. 

This is why the two economies are not competitors on the global market, and that means there is a lot they can offer to each other.

But it is, perhaps, value addition in the Ugandan coffee sector — processing coffee in Uganda before export — where Serbia can contribute the most, and reap the greatest reward.


It may be surprising to know that Germany is in fact the world’s largest exporter of freeze-dried instant coffee. 

This country, which also cannot grow a single bean, outpaces almost the entirety of coffee-producing Africa for income made from the coffee business.

Germany has no special technology that others do not possess. The simple reason why they’re number one in this industry are the punitive EU import tariffs that have stopped the import of anything other than raw coffee from Africa into Europe in its tracks. 

To put it simply, European tariffs are so exceptionally high, it is actually cheaper to produce freeze-dried coffee in high-wage Germany than it is to create a single job in the coffee processing industry in sub-Saharan Africa.

This is just the beginning

This means the value-addition sector has been hobbled for decades by a trade policy made elsewhere in the name of free trade but which is in fact protectionism, pure and simple. 


But this is changing. The UK has recently unveiled highly generous and advantageous new trade tariffs for Africa, which will enable the import of coffee processed in Africa to the fifth-largest world economy. 

In time, this is set to lead to increasing pressure on the EU to change its own prohibitive trade policies.

And this is where the opportunity lies for Serbia. The country’s coffee sector which itself is large, is now intending to offer through investment and joint ventures one of the first opportunities for Uganda since independence to develop its own processing industry.

The opening of a new Ugandan trade hub in Belgrade is just the beginning. 

More will follow in other key locations including the UK, US, and Dubai. But the agreements signed in Serbia last week lay the foundations for all the rest while breathing new life into a little-known, but in fact long-standing and increasingly fruitful partnership.

Odrek Rwabwogo is a Ugandan farmer and Chair of Uganda’s Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID), and Bratislav Stoiljković is a Serbian entrepreneur and Uganda’s trade representative to southeastern Europe.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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Myths and facts about treating a hangover | CNN

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Are you celebrating the first day of 2023 with a hangover?

If so, you might be looking for a method to ease your misery. There are certainly a lot of so-called hangover cures, some dating back centuries.

“The ancient Greeks believed that eating cabbage could cure a hangover, and the Romans thought that a meal of fried canaries would do the trick,” said Dr. John Brick, former chief of research at the Center of Alcohol Studies, Education and Training Division at Rutgers University in New Jersey, who authored “The Doctor’s Hangover Handbook.”

“Today, some Germans believe that a hearty breakfast of red meat and bananas cures hangovers. You might find some French drinking strong coffee with salt, or some Chinese drinking spinach tea,” he said. “Some of the more unusual hangover cures are used by some people in Puerto Rico, who rub half a lemon under their drinking arm.”

In truth, the only cure for a hangover is time, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

“A person must wait for the body to finish clearing the toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism, to rehydrate, to heal irritated tissue, and to restore immune and brain activity to normal,” according to the institute. That recovery process can take up to 24 hours.

Are there things you can do to ease your transition? Possibly, experts say, but many common hangover “cures” may make your hangover worse. Here’s how to separate fact from fiction.

Having another drink, or the “hair of the dog that bit you,” is a well-known cure for a hangover, right? Not really, experts say.

The reason some people believe it works is because once the calming effects of alcohol pass, the brain on a hangover is overstimulated. (It’s also the reason you wake up in the middle of the night once your body has metabolized alcohol.)

“You’ve got this hyperexcitability in the brain after the alcohol is gone,” said Dr. Robert Swift, a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island.

“If you look at the brain of somebody with a hangover, even though the person might feel tired, their brain is actually overexcited,” he said.

Consuming more alcohol normalizes the brain again, “because you’re adding a sedative to your excited brain,” Swift said. “You feel better until the alcohol goes away and the cycle repeats in a way.”

The answer is yes, depending on hangover symptoms, Brick said. If you’re a coffee drinker, skipping your morning cup of joe may lead to caffeine withdrawal on top of your hangover.

But coffee can irritate the stomach lining, which is already inflamed by alcohol, Brick said. So if you are queasy and nauseous, coffee may only make matters worse.

“If you have a hangover, have a quarter of a cup of coffee,” Brick suggested. “See if you feel better — it takes about 20 minutes for the caffeine to start to have some noticeable effect.

“If coffee doesn’t make you feel better, don’t drink anymore. Obviously, that’s not the cure for your hangover.”

Forget eating a greasy breakfast in the wee hours after a night of drinking — you’re adding insult to injury, Swift said: “Greasy food is harder to digest, so it’s probably good to avoid it.”

Eating greasy food also doesn’t make much sense. The alcohol we drink, called ethyl alcohol or ethanol, is the byproduct of fermenting carbohydrates and starches, usually some sort of grain, grape or berry. While it may create some tasty beverages, ethanol is also a solvent, Brick said.

“It cuts through grease in your stomach much the same way it cleans grease off oily car parts,” he said.

Instead, experts suggest using food to prevent hangovers, by eating before you have that first drink.

“Eating food loaded with protein and carbohydrates can significantly slow down the absorption of alcohol,” Brick said. “The slower the alcohol gets to your brain, the less rapid the ‘shock’ to your brain.”

Alcohol dehydrates, so a headache and other hangover symptoms may be partly due to constricted blood vessels and a loss of electrolytes, essential minerals such as sodium, calcium and potassium that your body needs.

If you’ve vomited, you’ve lost even more electrolytes, and all of this can lead to fatigue, confusion, irregular heart rate, digestive problems and more.

Replacing lost fluids with water or a type of sports drink with extra electrolytes can help boost recovery from a hangover, Swift said.

Taking over-the-counter pain meds can be dangerous, especially if you take too many while intoxicated, experts say. Taking an acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, can further damage your overtaxed liver, while aspirin and ibuprofen can irritate your stomach lining.

“You should never, never take alcohol with acetaminophen or Tylenol,” Swift said. “You can actually cause liver damage from an overdose of Tylenol.”

But aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen are “theoretically” OK, he added.

“Even though they tend to be anti-inflammatory in the body, they can cause inflammation in the stomach,” Swift said. “Don’t take them on an empty stomach; always take anti-inflammatories with food.”

While most alcohol is handled by the liver, a small amount leaves the body unchanged through sweat, urine and breathing.

Get up, do some light stretching and walking, and drink plenty of water to encourage urination, Brick said.

“Before you go to sleep and when you wake up, drink as much water as you comfortably can handle,” he said. You can also take a multivitamin “before you hit the shower in the morning (to) replenish lost vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.”

If you would rather have something warm and soothing, Brick suggested broth or other homemade soups.

“These will also help to replace lost salts, including potassium and other substances,” he said, “but will not make you sober up faster or improve impairment due to intoxication or hangover.”

Store shelves are packed with so-called hangover cures. Unfortunately, there’s no proof they work. In 2020, researchers published what they called the “world’s largest randomised double-blind placebo-controlled” trial of supplements containing vitamins, minerals, plant extracts and antioxidants and found no real improvement in hangover symptoms.

Even if one solution works, it likely won’t fix all your symptoms, experts say.

“The effects of alcohol and alcoholic beverages are so complicated, so complex,” Swift said, “that any solution might address one or two of the symptoms but won’t address them all.”

What does work for a hangover? Time. It will take time for your body to release all the toxins causing your misery, experts say. And the only way to prevent a hangover is to abstain.

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