Rwanda plans to offer new incentives to attract investors in export-oriented projects in coming months under a new export strategy. It is also developing a framework to guide land allocation and infrastructure prioritization for investment.
The new export strategy, still under discussion, is part of a broader plan to diversify and narrow the country’s trade deficit, which has been climbing in recent years.
Rwanda’s traditional export products including tea, coffee, pyrethrum as well as minerals continued to dominate the sector in 2013, representing 62.1 per cent of total exports against 59.4 per cent in 2012.
This dependence on a few primary commodities remains one of the main challenges for a country seeking to reduce the high external trade deficit and build resilience to external shocks.
For instance, while exports are projected to grow by seven per cent to $751 million from $ 703 million in 2013, the import bill is also expected rise by 16 per cent to $2147.4 million from the $1148.4 million in 2013.
As a result, the country’s current account deficit is expected to deteriorate to $803.2 million in 2014 from $537.5 million in 2013.
François Kanimba, the Minister of Trade and Industry, told The East African that the revised export strategy will focus on promoting new emerging sectors, facilitating cross-border trade and boosting local production.
“We came to realise that the sectors that had been identified as the main generators of foreign exchange were not necessarily those that are currently generating foreign exchange. There are also new emerging sectors,” Mr Kanimba said.
In the revised export strategy service sub-sectors, including the information and communications technology (ICT) and financial sectors, are expected to benefit from new incentives as they are seen as enabling traditional services to overcome the country’s old constraints of physical and geographic proximity.
The government is specifically targeting promoting software development, call centres, and outsourced business processes that can be traded like value-added and manufactured products.
It is aiming to access new markets within the region by stepping up investment in cross-border infrastructure including setting up markets on its different border posts.
“A diversified range of products is being exported on a daily basis; focusing on these and seeing how to facilitate cross-border trade is going to be extremely important,” he said.
This week, the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) launched a new three-year programme — the USAid Trade Infrastructure Programme — which will work to improve the efficiency of regional trade in Rwanda.
Under the $5.7 million programme, to be implemented by TradeMark Africa ( TMA ), the focus will be on reducing the time it takes for goods to cross and clear Rwandan borders.
Source: The East African
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