Rwanda: Top Issues As Samia Starts Rwanda Visit

Dar es Salaam — With President Samia Suluhu Hassan slated for a two-day State Visit to Rwanda from today, the business community yesterday listed seven priorities they would focus on in bilateral talks between Tanzania and Rwanda that could boost the intra-trade between the two.

They include stabilising economic relations; clearing out the Non-Tariff Trade Barriers (NTBs), and payment of unpaid transactions that Rwandan importers owe clearing and forwarding agents and transporters in Tanzania.

The list also includes freedom of movement of people; building a transport and logistics hub in Dar es Salaam; reviewing the East African Community (EAC) nuisance tax laws, and exploring investment opportunities in both countries.

While in Rwanda, President Hassan will hold talks with her Rwandan counterpart, Mr Paul Kagame, and cement bilateral ties topping the list of agenda, according to the statement signed by the director of Presidential Communications, Mr Jaffar Haniu.

READ: President Samia heading Rwanda on a two-day state visit

The Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (Taffa) president, Mr Edward Urio, was expecting the two presidents to dialogue on strategies to ensure the Rwandans have a good flow of their shipments through the Dar es Salaam Port with a view to stabilising the economic relations between the two countries.

At 30-to-35 percent, Mr Urio said, currently Rwanda is the second contributor after DRC in terms of cargo passing through Tanzania's main port.

Further, Mr Urio expected that the two leaders would discuss scrapping the NTBs at the Dar es Salaam Port-Rwanda transport corridor.

"We need to have a smooth flow of business in order to help facilitate trade between both countries," recommended Mr Urio.

He also called for the two Heads of State to intervene on the $2.6 million (about Sh5.9 billion) outstanding payments that Rwandan importers have been owing Tanzania's transporters and clearing and forwarding agents for some years now.

The Tanzania Private Sector Foundation executive director, Mr Francis Nanai, said "This is an opportunity to improve trade through Dar es Salaam Port. We can use our geographical and distance advantage to make Rwanda use Dar Port instead of Mombasa in Kenya."

He also expressed the need for constructing a transport and logisticalhub in Dar es Salaam so that the Rwandans could import from Dar es Salaam instead of China, Japan and India.

Mr Nanai called for flexibility at border crossings to allow smooth movement of labour and capital and thus bolster trade between the two countries.

READ: President Samia to visit Kenya on Tuesday

The Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA) president, Paul Koyi, expects the two Presidents to dialogue on private sector integration between Tanzania and Rwanda - and in the EAC at large.

"This is important in boosting intra-trade between the two countries, and within the EAC, which is currently still very low," noted Mr Koyi.

READ: President Samia heading to Burundi on two-day state visit

Going by the United Nations International Trade Statistics Database, Tanzania exported goods and services worth $247 million (about Sh568.1 billion) to Rwanda in 2019.

During the period under review, Rwanda exported goods and services valued at $5.04 million (about Sh11.5 billion) to Tanzania.

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