The New Times (Kigali)

17 February 2013

Rwanda: Informal Exports Increase By 45 Percent

Informal cross-border exports have increased by over 45 per cent, the central bank has said.

According to the National Bank of Rwanda governor, Claver Gatete, Rwanda's informal exports totaled to $101.8m (about Rwf64.5b) in 2012, up from $71.5m (about Rwf45.3b) in 2011, thus registering an increase of 45.8 per cent.

The exports were mainly dominated by transactions with the Democratic Republic of Congo, which accounted for 75 per cent of total cross-border exports last year.

Although economic experts have voiced concern, saying the political instability in the country would hurt the trade with time, governor Gatete said the situation was stable for the moment as the governments sought for solutions to the conflict.

In general, agricultural products and livestock were the major commodities exported.

"The goods include dried beans, bovine cattle, maize flour and beef," Gatete noted.

Gatete was addressing reporters about the economy's performance in the second half of 2012 on Friday at the Kigali Serena Hotel.

On the other hand, most of the country's informal imports came from Uganda, constituting 45 per cent of the $22.6m (about Rwf14.3b) import trade last year.

However, he said this was a decline from $23.51m (about Rwf14.9b) in 2011.

"The main imported products from neighbouring countries were sorghum, irish potatoes, whiskies, cassiterite, and dried beans, which comprises of 35% of total cross-border import bill of Rwf13.9b," he said.

Gatete noted that informal cross-border exports of industrial products also recorded good performance in 2012. Products such as maize flour, wheat flour, domestic metals, plastic products, petroleum products and sugar dominated, representing 25.7 per cent.

Of these, maize flour, plastic products and domestic metals have consistently increased since 2009, while others have shown an erratic movement.

"On the import side, whiskies, beer, maize flour, soaps and cosmetics, construction material and other manufacturing products dominated, taking 19 per cent of the total imports bill," Gatete said.

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