Rwanda: Non-Traditional Exports Buoy International Trade

17 November 2019

Non-traditional exports such as fortified foods and cement have buoyed Rwanda's international trade at a time when international commodity prices remain unstable globally.

Previously, traditional exports such as coffee, tea and mineral were the most dominant. However, the global commodity prices in the international market have affected prices of the goods.

Central Bank Governor, John Rwangombwa, said that non-traditional exports had played a significant role in driving up exports. In the first 9 months of 2019, exports grew by 3.9 per cent.

The non-traditional exports include fortified foods, food products, cement as well as re-exports of machinery and fuel.

"We saw lots of exports to Uganda and South Sudan mainly fortified foods with a positive impact on non-traditional exports. We also see exports of cement to Congo. There were re-exports of machinery and vehicles to Congo and Burundi. As well as fuel re-exports," the Governor said.

The exports of cement by Cimerwa despite the fact that Rwanda still imports cement can be explained as an attempt to create links and entry into the Congo market as they work to increase their production capacity.

Imports into Rwanda grew in the first 9 months of 2019 by 14.6 per cent which increased the trade deficit which is at 24.2 per cent.

A significant portion of imports into the country are capital and intermediary which are used for production, Central Bank statistics show.

Thomas Kigabo the Chief Economist at the Central Bank said that 30 per cent of the total imports were capital goods, while 29 per cent were intermediate goods.

The trade imbalance has seen the Rwandan Franc depreciate by 4 per cent against the dollar. However, the central bank projects that depreciation will remain lower than the initial projections of 5.1 by the end of December 2019 to stand at 4.8 per cent. The depreciation is attributed to the growing demand of the dollar by to pay for imports.

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