By any measure, our imports bill is way out of whack with our exports and far above our means to sustain indefinitely. A 24.6 per cent (or even the previous 27.5 per cent) imports covered by our exports is a calamity waiting to explode in our faces.
Our private sector (which should be our exports engine) is failing in this role, despite the Government’s herculean efforts and investments to help businesses step up onto the plate and raise their game to compete effectively and profitably on the global markets.
A temporary trade deficit is fine—in fact welcome—if it is due to investments in national production capacity to increase a country’s exports base or to raise its ability to satisfy domestic consumption as a substitute for continued imports.
But our persistently dire terms of trade are related more to the inability to raise our exports or to satisfy domestic consumption demand with local production rather than a temporary spurt in imports of machinery and equipment to increase domestic production for local consumption and exports.
Our exporters’ anemic under-performance reminds me of another national sector that has equally guzzled so much treasure with very little to show for it: our sportsmen and sportswomen.
All of which remains inexplicable, given the potential direct benefits to be gained by individual actors in either field from effectively taking advantage of all the public support they have received.
Mwene Kalinda, Rwanda
Reaction to the story, “Rwandan exports to EAC grow despite poor global showing” (The New Times, August 21)