The ministry of commerce, investment, industry and cooperatives is to come up with a handcraft law, to protect Rwanda’s baskets against piracy.
Francine Umurungi, director of trade and industry in the commerce ministry said Rwanda’s handcrafts are on high demand internationally and currently bring in high revenue.
This is partly because former American president, Bill Clinton, signed an African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) pact—where duty-free market was extended to some of African products into the US. This pact granted Rwanda a deal to export baskets to Macy’s Store, one of the top American retail stores.
“The handcrafts especially the peace baskets (agaseke) having gained market, it is necessary that we come up with a law to protect the product from piracy,” she said.
“We are suspicious that other countries might copy our unique weaving techniques in making those crafts, thus exploiting our market advantages,” Umurungi said.
And that “it will create standards for Rwanda’s handcrafts against other competitors.”
The law is expected to also push for the further development of the handcraft sector, which is a source of income for many Rwandans.
She said the ministry of commerce is to work closely with United Nations trade consultants in drafting the law after studying the country’s handcraft and its performance on the international market.
It is expected that by mid this year, the study will be completed soon.