The New Times (Kigali)

6 January 2014

Rwanda: Take Cross Border Trade a Notch Higher

Rwandans involved with import and or export trade are said to be losing billions of money in questionable insurance and transport fees. This is unfortunate considering that it affects their ability to transact business and, ultimately, it hurts local consumers in form of high commodity prices.

This calls for urgent action to help local business people so they can engage in international trade profitably. However, it is disappointing to learn that some importers/exporters do not understand contracts and terms used in logistics business, partly explaining the losses.

Why don't such businesses engage the services of professional agents or lawyers to handle their shipments? Why would one want to handle a transaction they do not fully understand? Doing business is not enough, you have to do it smart. Failure to streamline your business by engaging professionals and acquiring the necessary skills yourself means that you will continue to lose your hard-earned money through exorbitant charges or illegal fees.

It is important for businesses to continually enrich their knowledge to stay on top of their game. The Private Sector Federation should also help its members by empowering them with the tools they need so they can competitively carry out cross-border trade, or any other commercial undertaking for that matter.

PSF could also actively engage shippers to ensure that they do not take advantage of traders' ignorance to levy illegal fees. This is important especially since professional bodies like the freight forwarders association are still weak largely due to low membership.

It is also important for businesses to join or form industrial groups to increase their bargaining power, be able to fight vices like illegal charges, and support those who don't understand the intricacies of the trade.

Let's do business in a smart way this year to advance our enterprises and economy.

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