Tourism sector has topped Rwanda’s exports with 25.5 percent over the total exports score of 31.7 percent revenue into Rwanda’s economy.
Figures published by Ministry of commerce indicate that the fast growing sector earned the highest figure at US$251 million in 2011.
Presenting the state of the Rwanda’s economy Francois Kanimba, the Minister of Trade and Industry, said that exports increased by 31.7 percent, from US$564.6 million in 2010 to US$743.5 million in 2011.
Kanimba said it was mainly mainly boosted by improvement in the mining, tea and coffee sectors, as well as receipts from tourism.
However, imports were still 33.9 percent higher than exports, owing to poor performance by local industries which made it inevitable to increase imports.
Imports skyrocketed to over US$1.08bn in 2011 compared to the previous year’s US$1.05bn.
“We still have a lot of work to do in the local industrial sector; many industries are struggling to operate and indeed, some of them may close down,” Kanimba said.
“However, government policy is to facilitate those that can be revived to cut their costs of production and begin contributing to local production, which in turn will help to reduce importation.”
According to Kanimba the government decided to bail out 25 local medium scale industries and 15 small ones under a programme that will continue through 2012 to bridge trade deficit.
Ten new plants commenced operations in 2011 as well as a number of small food processing plants in the rural areas hence contributing to the overall performance of the economy.
He also said that there was no tangible gain from the East Africa Community’s (EAC) resolution to impose taxes on sugar imports from outside the bloc yet the region faced a heavy sugar scarcity.
“We requested our EAC counterparts to consider the removal of taxes on sugar imported from outside the bloc as an incentive to increase supply and stabilise sugar prices in the local markets,” Kanimba said.
EAC imposed taxes on sugar imports from outside the bloc to protect sugar traders in the region.
However Rwanda’s trade with EAC has improved with exports to the region elevating to US$107 million by September 2011 from US$105 million in 2010.
“Among other things, regional trade was facilitated by the opening of Nemba One Stop Border Post with Burundi following the 24 hour operations at Gatuna. Other border posts to commence construction in 2012 include Kagitumba-Mirama Hills and Rusumo Border,” Kanimba added.
The government also expressed optimism on key bilateral investment deals with Congo Brazzaville, North America and China.
Under the Bilateral Investment Treaty with the USA signed in 2008 by President Paul Kagame and former US President George W. Bush, Rwanda was able to export products worth US$52 million in 2010.
Under the agreement, Rwanda has the opportunity to export over 5,000 units of products duty free into North America.
On top of that, China opened up its market for up to 4,000 products from Rwanda on duty and quota free basis.