Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Government buoyant on regional markets


An Ethiopian Airlines plane prepares to load cargo at Kigali International Airport a few weeks ago. Exporters have been urged to increase output to satisfy regional markets.
The government is optimistic the markets secured in the region will be sustained. This follows efforts to boost production capacity of local exporters, an initiative that will reduce the country’s trade deficit, officials have said.

Rwanda has secured regional markets, especially in Congo-Brazzaville. This calls for increased production to satisfy these markets. This also means that more producers need to come on board. 

The government’s efforts were recently boosted by the new Ethiopian Airlines cargo freight that airlifts 30 tonnes of goods every Monday and Sunday of week from Kigali International Airport to Brazzaville. It is hoped the airline will be extending the service into Gabon, depending on demand.

According to statistics from the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), meat makes 90 per cent of Rwanda’s exports to Brazzaville. Other agricultural foodstuffs like dry beans, cheese and other products comprise the remaining 10 per cent of the exports.

However, as the government continues to search for external markets there are already fears of shortage of supplies. This calls for all stakeholders, especially traders, to be innovative and start exporting goods to sustain the market. 

Trade and Industry Minister Francois Kanimba said there was a need to diversify from meat to other products to balance the exports as well as earn more profits.

“The problem is not market sustainability, but production capacity of local firms. But I am optimistic that even if the produce is inadequate, traders will import from neighbouring countries and re-export. Exporters should diversify to other agricultural products,” the minister said in a recent interview. 

The new cargo freight is seen as stepping stone towards enhancing the country’s export receipts. The cargo space deal involves $51,000 paid by government and exporters. Under the one-year renewable agreement, exporters pay $1.75 per kilo and the government contributes $0.25 a kilogramme.

Dr. Isidore Gafarasi, the director of veterinary services at the Rwanda Agricultural Board, noted that there was enough heads of cattle to sustain the beef market, adding that some of the cattle are exported live to different parts of the DR Congo. 

Rwanda produces 72 tonnes of meat annually, which Gafarasi said was enough to satisfy the local and the export markets. He said 5,000 heads of cattle are exported to the DRC every month. The Eastern Province is the main supplier of the cattle, he added.

 With the Turkish cargo plane entering the market early next month, more exports will be required. This also means that transport fees will go down and this will attract more exporters.

Dr. Ndambe Nzaramba, the deputy director general of theNational Agricultural Export Board, revealed that they would carry out an awareness campaign urging business people to double the production.

Rwanda’s exports to the region have been gradually increased over the last five years when the country joined the East African Community. The trade bloc other members are Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi. 

According to a recent report by the National Bank of Rwanda on formal trade with EAC partner states, the country exports amounted to $115.30m last year, up from $ 80.7m in 2011 last year. This was an increase of 42.9 per cent. 

It also indicated that imports declined by 32.2 per cent amounting to $532.6m. This narrowed the country’s trade deficit to $417.3m, down from $705.1m in 2011. 

The main exports were tea, hides and skins, coffee, iron, vegetables and beer. 

On the informal crossborder trade which is becoming significant in the country’s external trade total exports increased by 45.8 per cent and amounted to $101.8m from $71.5m in 2011. 

Informal imports decreased slightly by 3.7 per cent from $32.5m to $ 22.6m in 2012, leading to an increase of about 65 per cent in Rwanda’s informal trade balance.


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