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Rwanda says ready to triple its international trade in 10 years as AfCFTA Starts

Minister of Trade and Industry of Rwanda Ms. Soraya Hakuziyaremye

By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU

Minister of Trade and Industry of Rwanda Ms. Soraya Hakuziyaremye has said Rwanda is ready to export goods to the wider African market adding that no one should worry that some of the countries with the largest economies on the continent will give less value to the market.

Minister Hakuziyaremye made the remarks while answering questions from reporters at the AfCFTA Start of Trading Virtual Launch event which was organised by the Rwanda’s Ministry of Trade on Friday, 15th January 2021.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a free trade area founded in 2018, with trade commencing as of 1 January 2021.

 It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations

Minister Hakuziyaremye said Rwanda is ready to compete on this market

Rwanda’s economic policy is open to foreign trade which accounts for 51.5% of the GDP (World Bank, 2018). … In 2018, merchandise imports from Rwanda reached USD 2.58 billion, while exports amounted to USD 1.1 billion. The country exported services worth USD 798 million and imported USD 931 million (WTO, 2018).

Regarding the exemption of taxes on traders who will be importing goods, Hakuziyaremye explained that “80% of the goods made in Africa will be the first to be exempted from taxes.”

“In our country, it is a process that will take 10 years to get rid of 10% of the tax to 0% of the tax,” she said.

She added that in Rwanda, agriculture, agribusiness and clothing products are some of the commodities that the country is ready to take to the market.

She encouraged ordinary people as well as the Private Sector to take part in taking the benefits from this big market.

“We, as Rwandans, find that in the next 10 years, we will have tripled our trade with foreign countries,” she said.

She reassured those concerned about major economies such as South Africa and Nigeria that they would belittle the market saying that there should be no worries because in general all countries are willing to join this market.

“It’s not an easy journey because even during the negotiations there have been shown that there is a lot to be done to set up this trade area “She explains

“but again, these great economies have their own business needs in this market,” Minister Hakuziyaremye added.

Regarding the free movement of people, Minister Hakuziyaremye said that this would also be facilitated as people would be able to trade and travel more easily under the AfCFTA agreement.

The fact that Rwanda has entered the wider market, it means that joining the market is not meant for Government as an institution rather a trade member with the people who might start thinking broadly, especially those who do business even at the local level.

Victor Nkindi, one of the Rwandans who have gained experience in International business through Hooza Media Company, says that this is a time for Rwandans to think broadly.

“Now, boarders are opening to allow more shipment at lower cost” He said.

“By start with regional integration, Tanzania, DRC or Kenya are great countries to start business with” Mr. Victor Nkindi commented

“Let us be bold and look after opportunities the continent is offering” He advised.

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