Exports increased by 31.7 percent, from US$564.6 million in 2010 to US$743.5 million in 2011, mainly boosted by improvement in the mining, tea and coffee sectors, as well as receipts from tourism.
This was announced by Francois Kanimba, the Minister of Trade and Industry, in his state of the economy statement.
Tourism revenues fetched the highest figure at US$251 million, representing 25.5 percent increase from the previous year.
However, imports were 33.9 percent higher than exports, owing to poor performance by local industries which made it inevitable to increase imports.
Imports skyrocketed to over US$1.5bn in 2011 from the previous year’s US$1.08bn.
“We still have a lot of work to do in the local industrial sector; many industries are struggling to operate and indeed, some of them will shut down,” Kanimba said.
“However, government policy is to facilitate those that can be revived to cut their costs of production and begin contributing to local production, which in turn will help to reduce importation.”
To bridge trade deficit, the government decided to bail out 25 local medium scale industries and 15 small ones under a programme that will continue through 2012.
Ten new plants commenced operations in 2011 as well as a number of small food processing plants in the rural areas, which, according to the minister, would contribute to the overall performance of the economy.
Kanimba cited sugar shortage as a major challenge that affected Rwanda’s economy as well as the region in 2011.
He said that there was no tangible gain from the East Africa Community’s (EAC) resolution to impose taxes on sugar imports from outside the bloc yet the region faced a heavy sugar scarcity.
“We requested our EAC counterparts to consider the removal of taxes on sugar imported from outside the bloc as an incentive to increase supply and stabilise sugar prices in the local markets,” Kanimba said.
EAC imposed taxes on sugar imports from outside the bloc to protect sugar traders in the region.
Consequently, Rwanda’s trade with EAC improved significantly, with exports to the region elevated to US$107 million by September 2011 from US$105 million in 2010.
Conversely, the value of imports from the region fell sharply from US$533 million to US$347, respectively.
“Among other things, regional trade was facilitated by the opening of Nemba One Stop Border Post with Burundi following the 24 hour operations at Gatuna. Other border posts to commence construction in 2012 include Kagitumba-Mirama Hills and Rusumo Border,” Kanimba added.
The government also expressed optimism on key bilateral investment deals with Congo Brazzaville, North America and China.
Under the Bilateral Investment Treaty with the USA signed in 2008 by President Paul Kagame and former US President George W. Bush, Rwanda was able to export products worth US$52 million in 2010.
Under the agreement, Rwanda has the opportunity to export over 5,000 units of products duty free into North America.
On top of that, China opened up its market for up to 4,000 products from Rwanda on duty and quota free basis.Follow https://twitter.com/RushAfrican