EAC outs plan to boost regional exports

The east African Community (EAC) has drafted a new export strategy that is aimed at marketing the region as a single source of quality goods, and boosting trade among member states.
A textile worker spinning cotton. The EAC has unveiled at plan to support the exports sector. File
A textile worker spinning cotton. The EAC has unveiled at plan to support the exports sector. File

The east African Community (EAC) has drafted a new export strategy that is aimed at marketing the region as a single source of quality goods, and boosting trade among member states.

The EAC Export Promotion Strategy 2013-2017 will come into force this year, according to Richard Sezibera, the East African Community secretary general.

He told reporter in Arusha over the weekend that the strategy, which has four pillars, will focus on production of diversified and high-value goods, promote quality product branding and emphasise international standards.

“This strategy is expected to transform and position the region at the global stage as a competitive and dynamic export-led region and, most importantly, as a single source of exports,” Sezibera said.

The policy will also focus on capacity building and infrastructure development so as to increase the region’s competiveness and reduce cost of doing trade, as well as elimination of trade barriers and harmonisation and strengthening regulatory frame work. 

Robert Bayigamba, the Rwanda Manufacturers Association president, said the plan presents a huge opportunity for ‘Made in Rwanda’ products.

“We already have our own strategy as Rwanda manufacturers, which has clear guidelines on how we should brand and market our products. Therefore, having a new region-wide strategy to enhance the exports sector in the region is a great boost to us,” he said.

The five-year plan will bring together the EAC secretariat, donors, regional institutions, government departments and private sector organisations. It is estimated to cost about $836.6m, according to EACsecretariat officials.

In November last year, the Private Sector Federation launched the Rwanda Exporters Forum to boost the country’s export industry.

Francois Kanimba, the Minister for Trade and Industry, said the strategy is a huge step towards achieving the national export target of 28 per cent per annum.

He further noted that plans to review the national export strategy to boost the industry were underway.

Hannington Namara, the Private Sector Federation chief executive officer, said the plan is a platform through which Rwanda manufacturers can innovate so as to compete favourably both at regional and international levels.

“The private sector welcomes this initiative. However, it also means that we must innovate so as to be able to tap into this opportunity.”

Last year, the export sector brought in more money than had been projected during the first half of this year, growing at 46.3 per cent in value and 27.1 per cent in volume, above the projected 14.9 per cent growth. This earned the country close to $290m (about Rwf197.2b) between January and June this year.

Efforts to have a harmonised industry policy are also being fast-tracked by EAC member states.

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