MPs urge government to do more to facilitate trade

French beans being packaged for export at National Agricultural Export Development Board in Kigali. According to Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente, Rwanda registered a $105-million trade surplus in informal cross-border trade in 2018. He was yesterday addressing a joint parliamentary session. / Emmanuel Kwizera

MPs on Thursday told Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente that the government needs to increase efforts to boost both internal and external trade for the country.

As the Premier addressed a joint session of senators and deputies about the government’s activities in the trade sector, they urged him to push for more assistance to industrialists and farmers’ cooperative in order to produce more and better goods for markets.

With Rwanda’s trade deficit slowly decreasing, especially since the government initiated a Made-in-Rwanda Campaign in 2018, the legislators said that the country needs to keep efforts at developing agro-processing industries.

Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente addresses parliament. / Sam Ngendahimana

Thanks to a vibrant agriculture sector, Rwanda reported a $105-million trade surplus in the area of informal cross border trade in 2018 as it traded mostly agricultural goods, mainly with neighbouring countries.

“Most of the exports were agricultural produce,” the premier said on the recorded cross-border trade surplus.

Members of parliament follow Prime Minister’s presentation yesterday. / Sam Ngendahimana

The report on cross-border trade and other opportunities in agribusiness had many MPs pitching ideas that a bigger attention should be put on agriculture.

MP Jean-Pierre Hindura said that more investments need to be made in the agriculture sector, at one point suggesting that a special ministry is needed to take care of animal resources development.

“We need to invest more in agriculture. Why can’t we have a special ministry in charge of animal resources or just a State Minister in charge of livestock?” he wondered.

Members of parliament follow Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente's presentation yesterday

He added: “Agriculture is a key sector that is even essential for fuelling industry”.

Hindura said that “cross-border trade markets need to be better organised” in order to increase income from it.

“We are required to do more in order to maximize profits,” he said.

MP John Ruku-Rwabyoma pushed for improvements on how Rwandans handle packaging for their goods for sale, also explaining that the target should be on international markets to maximise benefits.

“Let’s make steps and be ready to compete on international markets. We can improve on packaging and transportation of our goods in order to benefit from international markets,” he said.

Senators consult each other during the session

Senator Jacqueline Muhongayire, she pushed for more efforts to organise members of farmers and traders’ cooperatives.

“Without an entrenched culture of working together in cooperatives among Rwandans, we won’t reach anywhere,” she said.

The Prime Minister equally noted that efforts will be made to improve coops management in the future, indicating that they remain at the centre of successful trade and investment.

“Cooperatives still have management issues and efforts are being made to train their managers in order to bring about efficiency,” Ngirente said.

The premier said that the Ministry of Trade and Industry has been working to address challenges of theft and poor management of cooperatives in the country.

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