Rwanda still imports more than it exports to other foreign markets and this puzzle continues to elude local economic planners that spend sleepless nights cracking through moves that would balance trade.
Experts have realised that the biggest problem is lack of correct information among local firms and that this challenge does not require rocket science to fix.
Another complex huddle that local firms have to jump over is the intricate trade barriers.
On Wednesday the European Union Delegation to Rwanda conducted Market Access training for Rwandan companies in conjunction with ITC’s Market Analysis, Private Sector Federation, Ministry of Trade & Industry, Agriculture Ministry and the Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB).
This training According to the EU delegation in Rwanda is “an initiative that complements our development support to the agriculture sector in Rwanda.”
Nicola Bellomo EU Ambassador to Rwanda told the trainees that Rwanda has free access to the EU market (everything but arms) but volumes of exports remain low.
“Most of our trade consists of EU imports to Rwanda; our objective is to balance our trade relations – and to help create jobs and economic growth in the process,” Bellomo said.
This training is considered a great opportunity for our export SMEs, for those that did not get a chance this time more training and support soon!” says the chief executive officer of the National Agricultural Export Development Board.
According to the International Trade Centre (ITC), Rwanda still has an untapped potential to export $14.5M more to Europe. In 2017 alone, Rwanda exports to European markets accounted for a Total: $53.5million.
Cutting through the wooves of international trading, local Rwandan firms need to know that Rwandan products don’t pay import tariffs when entering the EU market.
For example if a Rwandan farmer wants to export green beans to the EU, though most countries pay 11% of their price on import duties, Rwandan beans don’t pay anything to access the EU market.
However, exporters have to prove that their products are genuinely “Rwandan” to get this incentive.
According to NAEB, It is also good to know what goods are needed and have most chances at EU markets.
It can be remembered that in 2013, the ITC’s Market Analysis asked Rwandan firms to mention their obstacles to export.
Statistics from NAEB indicate that overall 71% of exporting companies reported encountering Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).
The report on NTBs showed that the agro-processing industry in Rwanda is the most affected by trade barriers.
When asking the Rwandan firms where the problems to export are, it was found that most of them can be solved locally.
“All our exporters need is to be most informed. Not knowing what you need to have before exporting your good to Europe is the major barrier,” NAEB says.
Rwanda, the International Trade Center (ITC) and the European Union (EU) are working together to inform local firms on how to export to the EU with 503 million people and more than 25% of the world’s GDP, it is a good target for any business.
Rwandan firms enjoy preferential conditions to export to the EU that totally remove the duties to pay when entering the EU market. This makes Rwanda products more competitive.