Bujumbura — Burundi's exports within the East African region have continued to increase by more than 15% while imports have been declining, an official of the East African Community (EAC) has said.
"This shows that due to the improved peace and security in the country, Burundi was enjoying peace dividends through reconstruction of local production base.
"Burundi and Rwanda commenced implementing the EAC Customs Union from 1st July 2009 and that in 2011, the total intra-EAC trade increased by 20.5 percent reaching the highest value of US$ 4,4856 billions.
"But in 2011, Burundi recorded an increase in its share of EAC trade to 4.2% having grown the share from 2.6% recorded in 2010," says Peter Kiguta the EAC Director of Customs and Trade.
Kiguta said this at the opening of the 13th edition of the EAC Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi exhibition under the theme "Promoting Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi through innovation, competitiveness, investment and private public partnership" at the Musee Vivant de Bujumbura in Bujumbura, Burundi.
He said holding of the exhibition in Bujumbura was timely in enabling the sector and entrepreneurs to recognize and deepen their role within the broader perspective of Burundi economy and development.
He added that the enthusiastic participation of so many artisans and entrepreneurs from all the five Partner States and their lively interaction was a reflection of the new vibrant spirit for regional integration and development that was emerging in East Africa.
However according to the United Nations African Economic Outlook report for 2012, the post-conflict situation remains a handicap for Burundi, and prevents it from enjoying a favourable external environment.
"However, the economy made progress, with stable growth, at 4 % in 2011, almost the same as in 2010 which was at 3.9 %, the policies implemented a timorous attempt at controlling inflation, which stayed in single digits,' says the report seen by East African Business Week.
It says that the country's inflation rate rose to 6.5 % in 2010 and about 8.3 % in 2011 while fuel and foodstuff price rises undermined the economy, heavily impacting the country's external position, the state of public finances and living conditions of the population.
It explains that preliminary government estimations show that the cost of this crisis is around 22 billion Burundi (BIF), or about 1 % of GDP in 2011.
The UN report said that agriculture is the mainstay of the Burundi economy, making up over 36.4 % of GDP, mainly through coffee and tea crops. Coffee exports represent 70 % of the state's foreign exchange.
"In 2011, good weather and far-reaching reforms in networks allowed coffee production to grow in volume, reaching some 30,000 tons, compared to 23,000 tons in 2010. Tea production is thought to have grown from 8,016 tons in 2010 to 9,000 tons in 2011 while more obvious growth was registered in stock-raising, thanks to the distribution of cattle to poor people," adds the report.