PARLIAMENT - Rwanda will now ratify the international convention relating to international exhibitions after parliament Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favour of the draft law.
Of the 58 members in the extraordinary session, 46 voted for ratification. 10 abstained and only one voted against while another did not vote.
Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the Minister of Trade and Industry while briefing parliament on the issue said it was largely in Rwanda’s interest to ratify the international convention.
“Ratifying it will give us the right to participate and benefit in various levels. It will also give us exposure and help in attracting business people whenever we participate,” Nsanzabaganwa said.
“The benefits are not solely commercial; they also involve aspects of culture and issues to do with ICT.” She added.
“There are indirect benefits you can’t simply quantify.” She explained that international exhibitions provide opportunities for global exchange between countries and Rwanda stands to benefit much from them.
“There is no monetary benefit but we stand to gain much in terms of marketing, contacts and possibly getting business opportunities later.”
The minister stressed that it would also give Rwanda the right to vote and have a say on where other international exhibitions take place. She said Rwanda could also host the event but only after ratifying the convention. Members of parliament expressed concern over ratification.
Rwanda’s capacity to host such big international events and if at all it could qualify was one of the major issues raised.
“Considering the required standards, one cannot say that by now we have attained the level of hosting these events. Today we can’t meet those standards but in future we can,” Nsanzabaganwa said.
She pointed out that in the past two occasions that Rwanda participated in international exhibitions, it got awards.
Rwanda out-competed African countries in Berlin last year, to emerge the best exhibitor followed by Tunisia and South Africa respectively.
In 1928, an International Exhibitions Bureau [Bureau International des Expositions - BIE] was established by a diplomatic international Convention signed in Paris to regulate the frequency and quality of exhibitions.
Since then, International exhibitions of a non-commercial nature are officially organised by a country and invitations to other countries are issued through diplomatic channels.
Accordingly, the BIE is not concerned with trade fairs and indeed the degree of commercial activity carried out at BIE exhibitions is carefully regulated.
Membership to the BIE which currently comprises over 98 countries is open to any country by accession to the 1928 Convention and the 1972 Protocol on International Exhibitions.