Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Imports suffocating local industries – manufacturers


Cheap imported sandals like these are hurting the market for local goods.
Local industrialists have cried foul over the influx of cheap imported commodities onto the market.

Chantal Umuraza, the executive director of the Chamber of Industries, said local products were being suffocated out of the market because people prefer cheap foreign goods imported from Asia.

“It’s difficult to penetrate European markets, which leaves the domestic market as the only option. Unfortunately, customers prefer imported goods to locally made products,” Umuraza said.

However, some customers told The New Times that they preferred goods from abroad because they are of better quality, a factor Umuraza disputes. 

“The problem is that we think that anything from Europe, Dubai or China is of high quality compared to locally-made products. That’s why some people will buy dresses or shoes that will tear after a few weeks,” Umuraza said. 

“By consuming local goods, we support manufacturers as well as the economy.” 

Umuraza, however, noted that there was a need for the manufacturers to be innovative and always ensure quality to compete favourably. 

“A customer will not buy a badly packaged or branded product in the name of promoting local industries,” she observed. 

Umuraza revealed that the sector was working with the Rwanda Bureau of Standards and other government institutions to ensure manufacturers observe quality guidelines.

“A good dress from Europe costs between 40 euros and 100 euros cheaper than what it would cost locally. This  is about Rwf40,000,” Umuraza pointed out.

According to the central bank 2013 report, imports increased to Rwf87,492m in December 2012 from Rwf83,470m in November. Rwanda’s imports include food products, machinery, construction materials, petroleum products and fertilisers.

Meanwhile, manufacturers have asked for a waiver on packaging materials or lifting the ban on polythene bags. They argue that using paper bags is very expensive and strains their earnings. 

However, Bruce Musoni, an environmental facilitator at the Chamber of Industries, said allowing polythene bags would hurt the environment and agriculture production in the long-run. 

“Rwanda is a mountainous country, with limited land for agriculture. If polythene bags are allowed into the country, this sector will suffer? We should not industrialise at the expense of other sectors,” Musoni noted.

Umuraza also challenged industrialists to exploit the challenge to their advantage by investing in manufacturing of packaging materials. 

“This is yet another business opportunity for us as manufacturers to invest in,” she noted.


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