THE national trade development and promotional agency, ZimTrade, has embarked on a market survey in Kigali, Rwanda to identify products and services with potential for exports in the east-African country.
The intervention buttresses the country's continued efforts to explore opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which came into force in January this year.
Increasing trade with Rwanda is expected to enhance access to markets in the East African Community (EAC) and in turn increase Zimbabwe's exports to the region with a combined GDP of more than US$177 billion.
Rwanda is a hub for a rapidly integrating Africa and with its central location in the region, is part of the EAC Common Market and Customers Union, which has a market potential of over 132 million people.
The Rwanda market survey follows the resolution to intensify cooperation between Rwanda and Zimbabwe that saw several Memoranda of Understanding being signed in March this year to cement bilateral relations at the inaugural virtual session of the Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation (JPCC).
To unlock opportunities presented by some of these agreements, ZimTrade has said the ongoing market survey will identify sector specific opportunities, compliance needs as well as route to market that will help Zimbabwean companies land in Rwanda with ease.
"The survey will focus on processed foods, pharmaceuticals, clothing, construction, horticulture, leather and leather products, agriculture inputs and implements, and services sectors," said ZimTrade in a press statement.
"From the findings of this exercise, Zimbabwean companies will develop strategies to penetrate the Rwandan market and establishing new export supply chains. These strategies may include, but are not limited to, supply partnerships, investments opportunities, diversification opportunities, promotional events, establishing wholesaler/distributor agreements, exhibitions, trade fairs and trade missions."
ZimTrade chief executive officer, Mr Allan Majuru, said access to critical market intelligence will make it easy for the country to grow its exports.
"What is most important as countries grow beyond Zimbabwean boarders is that they have access to reliable information, which will make it easy to create new markets for Zimbabwean products," he commented.
"These activities and market choices are driven by the National Export Strategy launched by President Mnangagwa in 2019, whose target is to grow Zimbabwean exports to US$7 billion by 2023 and US$14 billion in 2030."
The signed agreements include the Rwanda Development Board and ZimTrade cooperation whose objective is to promote mutually beneficial trade between the two countries.
Other agreements signed in March cover general cooperation agreement on the establishment of a Joint Permanent Cooperation Commission, diplomatic consultations, cooperation in the field of media, information and publicity, as well as collaboration in legal and criminal matters.
Rwanda has experienced high economic growth over the years and is fast becoming a strong economy in Africa, with an average of seven percent year-on-year real GDP growth since 2010. Despite having a strong policy framework, Rwanda's industrial sector is still small.
ZimTrade said this presents unique opportunities for Zimbabwean businesses in Rwanda in areas such as agriculture, health, education, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, ICT, packaging, clothing and textile, construction, engineering and tourism.
Rwanda is modernising its buildings and creating residential parks, thereby creating a huge market for supplies in the construction sector, including furnishings and electricals. Agriculture is one of Rwanda's main economic activities and there is potential for growth through increased productivity and value addition for local consumption.
"There is room for local suppliers to export agricultural inputs, mechanisation equipment and implements," said ZimTrade. "Rwanda is currently developing its skills base and this has opened opportunities for local businesses to supply an array of services, including labour to the country."
Vast opportunities also exist for services in almost all sectors including tourism, education, construction, and agriculture.
"Zimbabwe is home to a diverse skills base which are in demand in Rwanda and local companies can consider coming up with creative offerings that can appeal to a young generation who make up the bulk of consumers in Rwanda," said ZimTrade.