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Rwanda's trade with China up 50% for year

Updated: 2015-01-23 11:14
By Paul Ntambara for China Daily (China Daily Africa)

China continues to be Rwanda's top trade partner, according to 2014 trade figures from the Rwanda Revenue Authority.

Total trade between Rwanda and China stood at $367 million in 2014, up from $245 million in 2013. This represented a 50 percent increase year on year.

Rwanda's imports from China mainly include electronic products, machinery and light industry products while the country mainly exports minerals, hides and skin, tea, coffee and pyrethrum, a flower used to make insecticide.

According to Emmanuel Hategeka, permanent secretary in Rwanda's Ministry of Commerce, the strong growth in trade between China and Rwanda is attributed to the rapid growth in investment in Rwanda's information and communications technology infrastructure, for which China is a major supplier of products.

"Following the strong growth in trade in 2014, we expect China to remain one of Rwanda's largest trading partners in 2015," Hategeka says.

However, the trade imbalance between the two countries is glaring. Figures from Chinese Customs indicate that between January and September 2014, Rwanda exported to China goods worth $62 million.

According to Li Yaohong, the economic and commercial consul at the Chinese embassy in Rwanda, the low export figures are partly attributed to the fall in mineral prices on the world market. "As the international economy is recovering, mineral prices will increase and the bilateral trade between the two countries will be greatly improved," Li says.

In order to further promote bilateral trade between China and Rwanda, in November 2014, the two countries signed an agreement that awards duty-free treatment to 97 percent of products from Rwanda.

According to Hategeka, Rwanda's Ministry of Commerce is close to finalizing a new national export strategy to support the rapid growth in exports from Rwanda to regional and international markets.

"Part of this approach includes building stronger linkages between exporters from Rwanda and key export markets, including in China," he says.

About 20 Chinese companies in the sectors of construction, manufacturing, mining, engineering and services have set up shop in Rwanda. These include China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, pay television giant Star Africa Media, Beijing Construction Engineering Group and China Road and Bridge.

Key challenges to trade between China and Rwanda include high transportation costs and the high cost of production due to unreliable electricity.

Rwanda's current electricity installed capacity stands at 155 mW. The country plans to produce 563 mW by 2017 in order to meet its energy needs.

 Rwanda's trade with China up 50% for year

The Kigali International Convention Center in Rwanda currently being built by Beijing Construction Engineering Group. Bilateral trade between China and the African country has been expanding rapidly. Provided to China Daily


(China Daily Africa Weekly 01/23/2015 page9)

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