As government implements strategies to tackle the huge trade imbalance, exporters have revealed that lack of information on the availability of markets is impeding efforts to boost exports.
“The issue of lack of information on markets for our export commodities is still a challenge we need to address,” said Janet Nkubana, Chairperson of the Exporters Association at the Private Sector Federation (PSF), the body that groups together private sector players.
Nkubana told Business Times in an exclusive interview that availing information about market opportunities will help increase export commodities, a move she says will improve the ability by exporters to meet delivery orders to their clients.
“We are looking at creating a website, which will be a place to find information regarding export commodities and this will give uniform statistics on both exports and available markets,” she noted.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Rwanda registered a 33.9 percent import- export deficit with import receipts growing to US$1.5bn, last year, up from US$1.08bn, in 2010 even as export receipts rose to US$743.5m from US$564.6m in 2010, a 31.7 percent increase.
Francois Kanimba, the Minister of Trade and Industry, said that the government is set to address the trade deficit to increase exports by bailing out more than 25 industries including 15 small scale Industries to increase value added products that would meet international standards.
Nkubana noted that plans are also underway to bring together different sectors in the export domain under a forum to address some bottle necks to exports including quality standards, lack of information and tariff barriers among others.
Christine Murebwayire, a handcraft exporter, noted that most exporters fail to certify the demand of the market they get in volumes while other exporters maybe stranded with products that would have helped to increase volumes needed.
“I believe if such a platform is formed it will help us do our businesses easier,” she said.
Rwanda ratified its trade relations with some of the world’s largest economies like United States and China on duty free and quota free agreements, which is set to boost exports.
US market opens to more than 5,000 products, while China market unwraps for up to 4000 Rwandan products.
Mark Cyubahiro Bagabe, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwandan Bureau of Standards (RBS) said that his institution has set up strategies to ensure that more export products from Rwanda are certified to give the country a competitive advantage on international markets.
“We have set up five major testing laboratories to help test all the products,” he said, adding that 40 products and two systems were certified last year with a target of 60 products by June this year.