Efforts to reduce trade deficit gap have gained momentum following the launch of campaign to market ‘Made in Rwanda’ products.
The one-year campaign, launched yesterday at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, seeks to boost consumption of locally-produced products through a deliberate robust awareness campaign.
It also seeks to enhance quality, standards, branding and packaging of locally produced products along the value chain, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba, said.
The initiative, Kanimba, said is in line with some of the discussions at the recently concluded National Dialogue Council.
“It’s a comprehensive campaign targeting to change the mindset of our people toward locally-made products but also boost value addition along the value chain of production,” he said.
“We are also targeting producers, especially the small and medium enterprises, in terms of technology and innovation. We are confident this will boost productivity and help narrow the country’s deficit gap.”
He said efforts to establish the National Industry Research Development Agency are ongoing.
“The agency will help boost competiveness of Rwandan products, but we are also calling upon producers to conduct intensive publicity about their products so as to complement the sustainability of the campaign,” he said.
Statistics from National Bank of Rwanda show that trade deficit widened by 14.9 per cent from $1,053.83 million in the first eight months of 2013 to $1,211.24 million in the same period of 2014.
This was due to the increase in imports which increased by 11.1 per cent in value and 1.3 per cent in volume compared to exports which slightly increased by only 0.8 per cent during the same period.
It is, therefore, anticipated that marketing Rwandan products could help reduce this gap.
However, business analysts say government will also have to work hard to boost purchasing power per capita to create demand for these products.
“While it’s imperative to conduct and sustain such campaigns, you also need to address the question of purchasing power. Being able to identify your market share is equally paramount,” Emmanuel Turahirwa, a Kigali-based businessman, said.
“You must find ways of reducing the cost of production to be able to address the question of affordability and effective pricing.”
According to the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRSII), government is targeting to increase GDP per capita (purchasing power) to 1240 dollars by 2020.
The government has also signed agreements with more than 38 companies to boost production and exports so as to reduce trade deficit gap and boost economic growth.
This way, there is hope that the country could actually increase its export revenue by 28 per cent per year by 2018 as prescribed in the EDPRSII blueprint.
Anne Rwigara, the secretary-general of Rwanda Association of Manufactures (Ram), said the initiative will boost production and the sector’s contribution towards economic growth.
“The country is importing too much and you can’t create a strong industrial sector by encouraging importation, so promoting locally-made products both at home and abroad will grow the country’s manufacturing industry,” Rwigara said.
This is indeed true because, according to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda GDP figures for the third quarter, manufacturing sector declined by 5 per cent partly because of too much importation.