The Minister for Trade and Industry, Soraya Hakuziyaremye, has said that more efforts are needed from both the Government and the Private Sector Federation to increase the quantity and quality of locally made products.
She was speaking Wednesday at a news conference ahead of the Made-in-Rwanda Expo that opens today.
“Exports from Rwanda have increased by almost 70 per cent since the launch of the Made-in-Rwanda policy, last year alone the value of exports amounted to $944 million,
“This means that local manufacturers have to keep improving quantity and quality of locally made products so that they attract local consumers and keep increasing their exports as we move to imports substitution strategies in next three years’ time,” she said.
She noted that in order to increase exports, an Export Growth Facility providing guarantee funds to exporters was given priority.
The minister also pointed to an existing procurement policy where public institutions give priority to Made-in-Rwanda goods.
She noted that the high prices of locally made products were caused by the cost of transporting raw materials from ports as well as packaging materials that are expensive.
“Manufacturers raise concerns over raw materials and packaging that are imported. We are working on different policies to reduce the cost, including tax exemptions on some raw materials”.
“We are also looking into how to get raw materials such as leather from nearby markets like Ethiopia, instead of Asia. All these can enable them to produce more affordable goods, she said.
According to Stephen Ruzibiza, the CEO of the Private Sector Federation, they are jointly working with stakeholders such as TradeMark East Africa, to ensure the cost of transport from Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports drop.
“Transport from those ports play a role in raising the prices of locally produced goods. For a container to come from such ports to Rwanda it costs between Rwf$3,200 and $3,500. We want to reduce this by between 15 and 25 per cent,” he said.
He added that those in the textile sector, benefit from tax exemption on imported raw materials but added that tailors should also join hands and set up companies that can import and produce products together.
Since the launch of the Made-in-Rwanda campaign in 2015, the country’s total exports increased by 69 per cent, from $559 million in 2015 to $944 million in 2017, while total imports decreased by 4 per cent, from $1.849 billion in 2015 to $1.772 billion in 2017, which led to a 36 per cent decrease in trade deficit.