Members of the business community have welcomed the announcement that Pakistan will soon directly import Rwandan tea other than buying it through the Mombasa Tea Auction in Kenya.
This follows the announcement by the Pakistani High Commissioner to Rwanda Amir Muhammad Khan, when he paid a courtesy call on the Chairperson of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), Robert Bafakulera, at the PSF headquarters in Gikondo.
The meeting took place on Tuesday, August 31.
Pakistan is one of the largest importers of Rwanda's t]ea, with volumes exported to the Asian country accounting for over 40 per cent. Current exports have been via Kenya through the Mombasa tea auction.
Amir Muhammad Khan, High Commissioner of Islamic Republic of Pakistan to Rwanda, said that there is potential for investment in each and every sector in Rwanda but they will focus on the import of tea.
The Pakistani High Commissioner to Rwanda Amir Muhammad Khan during the meeting (Dan Nsengiyumva)
"We will be able to export tea from Rwanda directly, and not as a third destination, where Pakistan gets Rwandan tea from other countries and this will help boost trade between the Rwandan tea exporters and the Pakistan importers," he said.
Speaking to The New Times, Roger Rwasa, the Director General of Mushubi Tea Company Ltd, he said that once implemented, the new arrangement will help tea manufacturers in Rwanda have a steady market where they will be able to directly supply the produce without having to go through third parties.
"Usually the tea we sell is on auction in Mombasa, which reduces the profit margin but with this direct market, we will be able to sell the tea at a stable and hopefully better price," he said.
This, Rwasa said, will also trickle down to the farmers and all those involved along the production value chain.
"Perhaps most importantly, Pakistanis will be able to get original tea from Rwanda, because sometimes the tea is mixed at the port and they end up with bad quality."
He said that with the new cooperation, they will be able to directly export to the market branded tea "which will pave the way for more investors."
Robert Bafakulera, PSF chairman said that this trade cooperation will significantly help Rwandan tea exporters, because of the huge potential of the Pakistani market, being a country of over 200 million people.
Bafakulera added that the cooperation between Rwanda and Pakistan will benefit Rwandan importers as well.
"Other than rice, which is the biggest product we import from Pakistan, Rwandan importers will be facilitated to import textiles, agriculture machinery, and surgical instruments, among others, from Pakistan," he added.
Strengthen trade ties with Zimbabwe
Meanwhile Bafakulera also welcomed the Zimbabwean ambassador to Rwanda during which meeting they discussed different areas of cooperation in trade and investment.
After the meeting, Ambassador Charity Manyeruke said that at the government level, they have been working with Rwanda through different pacts signed but wanted to involve the private sector to boost the flow of trade volume between the two countries.
"The main sector is agriculture, where we can exchange on products like soya bean, sugar and milk among others and share expertise where both countries can learn from each other on food processing, conservation and agriculture methods," she said.
Bafakulera said that the cooperation between Rwanda PSF and Zimbabwe will help create a bigger market where they will be able to supply to other African countries as well as the rest of the world.
"Inter-African trade is still at a low rate; in order to boost trade between African countries, we need the cooperation of different private sectors from other countries on the continent," he added.