The government has condemned Burundi’s recent decision to ban exports destined to Rwanda saying it was a serious breach of EAC trade agreement but said it will have no impact in the Rwandan economy.
Addressing a news conference yesterday on regional and international trade, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba, stated that the decision would not in any way affect Rwanda’s economy.
“This is a very serious breach of EAC free trade regime. Rwanda and Burundi are both part of the free trade area,” he said.
The minister was referring to media reports that Burundi second vice President, Joseph Butore had recently warned Burundian citizens, especially those bordering Rwanda, that they would face serious consequences if they trade any commodity with their Rwandan neighbours.
Rwandans were mainly importing fruits such as mangoes and oranges, dried silver fish (Indagara), and palm oil. Its main exports to Burundi were mainly manufactured products, unprocessed maize flour, wheat flour, cassava flour, potatoes and milk.
Kanimba added that the decision would have little effect since products that were coming from Burundi could be procured elsewhere at a relatively low and or similar cost.
“I don’t think Rwanda is importing a lot from Burundi. I know there is cross-border trade in fruits and food products. In fact Burundi’s biggest challenge is shortage of foreign exchange.
“Therefore, it doesn’t make a sense to ban exports which could earn you some foreign exchange to address the challenges. So, the volumes of exports to Burundi have declined significantly simply because its purchasing power declined and free movement of trade reduced due to insecurity,” he added.