Rwandan exports to the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) fell by 70 percent in 2008.
According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the years preceding the financial crisis, revenues resulting from trade related to AGOA stood at about $10 million.
However, this revenue fell by more than one half in 2008 compared to 2007.
The same sources from the Ministry of Trade and Industry indicate that the coffee sector was affected the most with its revenues from the United States dropping from $2.5 million in 2007 to $800,000 last year.
The export volumes also fell drastically from 1,124,829 kg to 329,195 kg in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
“Rwandan new products had gained access to US markets with better prices and export diversification was also contributed to by Rwanda’s inception into AGOA,” said Lucas Murenzi the in charge of trade and advocacy at the Private Sector Federation (PSF).
A case study that was carried out indicated that the AGOA revenues continued to fall in 2009. Total revenue earned by a local crafts exporter to US in 2008 amounted to $549,000.
But the report indicates that in the first quarter of 2009, her average sales had fallen to $120,000.
Murenzi stressed the importance of AGOA to Rwanda as improving in the value addition of the Rwandan products as a result of access to the American market and the closer collaboration with important US partners such as Starbucks.
However, a way forward has been suggested which include lifting the 2015 AGOA timeframe to encourage extra and bigger export-oriented investments.
“There is a need for a platform to bring together the US and Rwanda business partners to enhance cooperation and joint investment” added Murenzi.