Rwanda’s trade with Dubai continues to grow substantially, thanks in large part to several developments that have established new business links on both sides, officials have said. Last year alone, Dubai's non-oil exports to Rwanda reached a value of $143.8 million, while imports from Rwanda exceeded $514.5 million, representing a 33-percentage increase. ALSO READ: Rwanda showcases tourism offerings at Dubai expo The development was announced on Monday, November 6, as the emirate kicked off its East African roadshow in Kigali. It is also part of Dubai’s “New Horizons” initiative, which aims to ‘boost the value of Dubai’s foreign trade to $544.5 million by 2026. On Monday, at least 20 executives of Dubai-based businesses engaged in a matchmaking activity, where they connected with Rwandan counterparts to among other things connect with potential partners for “mutual future success.” Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President and Chief Executive of Dubai Chambers, who also led the delegation pointed out that the trade mission seeks to assist our companies to expand their business into new markets during the coming two years. “This expansion could mean seeking potential investments and partnerships, setting up new branches, franchising, outsourcing, or diversifying trading partners.” He added; “While our markets have established flourishing trade relations, I believe we can still do more to strengthen bilateral trade and investments.” Rashed Lootah shared similar sentiments with Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation (PSF) acting Chairperson, Jeanne-Françoise Mubiligi. “I am sure that this forum will offer all of us here present the chance to investigate the business prospects for both countries. In addition to that, this forum is an opportunity to leverage our business matchmaking platform to connect with potential future partners and friends from Dubai in various industries,” she added; “Moreover, iI wish that we will gain insights into crucial trade and investment prospects in Dubai, the UAE, and the broader region.” Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Trade and Industry, Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze asserted that UAE remains a major trading partner for Rwanda with over $I billion in total trade. In the first quarter alone of 2023, exports from Rwanda to UAE were valued at $211.51 million accounting for about 50 percent of Rwanda’s share of exports, at the same time imports from UAE amounted to $87.26 million. “These are substantial numbers but nonetheless, there is room for more growth. The kind of growth that I believe can be established here with the work of the Dubai Chambers International through this Doing Business in Rwanda Forum,” he said. Perfect springboard to the region There is great potential around Kigali, and according to Rashed Lootah, in addition to being increasingly open and connected to the world, the country is uniquely positioned as a regional platform to serve neighbouring markets. Lootah said that Dubai's major exports and re-exports to Rwanda include machinery, electronics, vehicles, man-made filaments, plastics, and iron and steel. Meanwhile, he said, Dubai's key imports from Rwanda comprise precious stones and metals, fruits and nuts; coffee, tea and spices; oil seeds; and dairy products. “We have all noted and admired the fantastic economic leaps Rwanda has made in recent years. Just like Dubai, the country has placed significant emphasis on fostering innovation and nurturing technology-driven sectors,” he said. The emirate’s official pointed out that forward-thinking initiatives such as Kigali Innovation City and SMART Africa aim to promote digital transformation, entrepreneurship, and innovation. “We also know your nation has made notable progress in the ICT sector. Rwanda is the perfect springboard to explore business opportunities in East Africa.” To strengthen bilateral ties, both countries recently put in place visa waivers for official passports, a signed Double Taxation Agreement, and a Bilateral Investment Treaty. Other agreements have since been signed in education, tourism and hospitality, aviation, economic and technical cooperation, among others.