Government is seeking to promote internal trade in an effort to contain the increasing trade imbalance.
The move is being implemented alongside other government initiatives aimed at boosting exports to reduce the heavy bill of goods shipped into the country and ultimately offset the trade imbalance.
Although export receipts increased form US$105.4m in June last year to US$156.1m in January 2011, imports continued to surge in the first half of 2011, rising to US$743.8m, up from US$ 649.1m in the same period last year.
The central bank says that the 14.6 per cent increase in imports bill was occasioned by increased importation of energy, intermediary goods and final consumer goods, which shoot up by 30.4 per cent, 20.2 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.
“We want to see how we can reduce importation of goods that can be produced locally through promotion of internal trade,” Martin Gasasira, a senior trade development officer at Rwanda Development Board said.
Gasasira said, Wednesday, while meeting producers and traders of supermarkets. He observed that internal trade has the capacity to reduce the current surging imports.
“We have found out that our producers are facing problems of packaging, marketing techniques but they have the best products to out-compete imported ones,” he said.
He further noted that RDB is seeking to improve linkage between producers and traders so to ease the supply chain.
“The potential market is there and the producers are ready to produce but the challenge is on how these can be linked so that consumers can have these products.”
Speciose Mamie, Director Ingabo, a cheese producing firm said that local producers are facing a challenge of the consumers’ culture of not willing to consume products manufactured in Rwanda.
“We don’t have control over our customers and it’s not in our interest to sell imported products. The challenge is that we are always there to present what we have been given,” Nsengimana Evase, Director, Frulep supermarket said.
He added that most local products lack quality branding and packaging making it harder to compete with imported products. He added that most supermarket clients are foreigners and the elite class who are keen on packaging and quality.