Burundi, a new comer to the East African Community (EAC), has increased its exports within the EA region by about 15 per cent since joining the bloc in 2007.
The country’s share of EAC trade also rose to 4.2 per cent last year having grown from the share of 2.6 per cent recorded in 2010, according to EAC officials.
“This shows that due to the improved peace and security in the country, Burundi was enjoying peace dividends through reconstruction of the local production base”, said the EAC director general for Customs and Trade Peter Kiguta.
He made the remarks when he opened the 13th edition of the EAC Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi exhibition in Bujumbura on Thursday. The show is themed; Promoting Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi through Innovation, Competitiveness, Investment and Private Public Partnership.
Mr. Kiguta said Burundi and Rwanda commenced implementing the EAC Customs Union in July 2000 and that in 2011, the total intra-EAC trade increased by 20.5 per cent reaching the highest value of $ 4.4 billion.
Burundi’s exports within EA region had since joining the bloc continued to increase by more than 15 per cent while imports have been declining, he explained.
“Holding of the exhibition in Bujumbura is timely in enabling the sector and the entrepreneurs to recognise and deepen their role within the broader perspective of the Burundi economy and development,” he pointed out.
The Second Deputy Speaker of the Burundi National Assembly, Mr. Francois Kabura stressed the role of the informal sector when he opened the 13th edition of the EAC Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi exhibition at the Musee Vivant de Bujumbura.
He noted that the presence of the huge number of exhibitors and show-goers at the occasion was a testimony of their support to the economic development of Burundi.
He said now that peace, security and stability were prevailing in the country, enormous infrastructure facilities were being built in Bujumbura and across the country.
Mr Kabura reiterated that the Jua Kali exhibition was a very good event and an occasion for artists and artisans to enhance competitiveness and increase employment, and thereby accelerate the region’s sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction initiatives.
The Second Deputy Speaker applauded the EAC Secretariat for giving an opportunity to the Burundian small and micro enterprises and industries to share experience with informal sector from the other EAC Partner States. He later inaugurated the CISO Burundi Chapter with Mr. Juma Pili as the Chair.
Burundi’s Minister of Trade, Industry, Posts and Tourism, Ms Victoire Ndikumana commended the Confederation of the Informal Sector Organization (CISO) and the EAC Secretariat for organizing the event in Burundi for the first time since it joined the Community in 2007. She pledged her government’s total support to the informal sector and private sector as a whole.
The Chairman of the East African CISO Mr. James Bwatuti affirmed that the Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi exhibition was the biggest single initiative in the EAC that brings many small business people together in the region to, among others, promote and expand market opportunities; and encourage competiveness and innovation in the sector.