Rwanda and Zimbabwe are set for further economic and trade cooperation, with the two countries set to hold a trade and investment conference from March 24-26 in Kigali.
The trade and investment conference, to be held at the Kigali Serena Hotel, is being spearheaded by Rwanda Development Board and Zimbabwe's export promotion agency, ZimTrade.
The Rwanda-Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference was officially announced in Harare on Wednesday at a news conference attended by Zimbabwe's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, David Musabayana, Rwanda ambassador to Zimbabwe, James Musoni, and several captains of industry from Zimbabwe.
ZimTrade chief executive Allan Majuru said trade with Rwanda has been on a small scale and the upcoming groundbreaking conference will open new opportunities for Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
"What we have exported to Rwanda is insignificant compared to the import bill of Rwanda. I know it's a challenge but there is an opportunity for us to tap into that market," Majuru said.
Majuru said a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries to create market access will be signed at the trade and investment conference in Kigali.
Trade volume between Zimbabwe and Rwanda peaked at US$156,000 in 2018, from US$6,000 in 2011.
Zimbabwe exports to Rwanda increased to US$90,000 in 2014 from US$6,000 in 2011. But it plunged to US$4,000 in 2018.
During the same period, Zimbabwe's imports from Rwanda increased from a paltry US$1,000 in 2013 to US$18,000 in 2015 and to US$152,000 in 2018.
With the trade and investment conference on the horizon, Zimbabwe businesses have now started looking at the possibilities of exporting products into the Rwandan market.
Others are keen on partnerships.
Musoni said the two countries are making history together since this is the first time that Zimbabwe and Rwanda have taken bilateral relations to another level.
He said Rwanda provides opportunities for investment, particularly in sectors such as Infrastructure, Agriculture, Energy, Tourism, ICT, Real Estate, and Construction.
"With relations between Rwanda and Zimbabwe getting stronger by the day, facilitation of trade and investment in these exciting sectors will be seamless," Amb. Musoni said.
Zimbabwean companies needed to exploit the daily flight schedule of RwandaAir for trade purposes, he said.
He said Rwanda has over the years experienced sustained high economic growth of over 8% average year on year real Gross Domestic Product growth rate since 2007, making it the fastest-growing economy in Africa.
Zimbabwe's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Musabayana, welcomed the progressive initiative, saying: "The economic synergy that we are about to embark on with Rwanda is going to give the Zimbabwean economy impetus for transformation."
The Deputy Minister said Rwanda-Zimbabwe investment and trade arrangement resonates well with the aspirations of the second republic's upper-middle-income economy by 2030.
He said the two governments are planning to work on strengthening engagement and ties within the framework of the Joint Permanent Commission of Co-operation which will provide for a coordinated framework for cooperation between the two friendly countries.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries chief executive Sekai Kuvarika said this was an opportunity for the private sector to establish trade and investment.