Regional Co-operation

Informal Cross Border Trade at US$68bn
The survey that was conducted by the National Bank of Rwanda between May 2009-April 2010 to find out the volume of informal cross-border trade (ICBT) puts the trade at US$68bn. The report presents the findings of ICBT census that was conducted on 53 big and small posts, including unofficial border posts.

The report was presented by the National Bank of Rwanda, in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industries, the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda and the Rwanda Revenue Authority. The census put the total of Rwanda’s exports and imports to US$47bn and US$21bn, respectively, resulting in trade surplus of US$26bn and this surplus contributes to the country’s current account of balance of payment.

Benefits of Joining EAC are Immense
Rwanda’s trade to the EAC partner states has risen by 41 percent, as reported by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. According to available statistics, trade between Rwanda and the rest of the EAC grew to US$333bn, from US$234bn in 2008. The increase comes a few years after Rwanda joined the EAC and just months after the country acceded to EAC protocols, including the customs union and the common market protocol.

Rwanda’s decision to join the EAC was received with mixed feelings. A number of sceptics argued that the country stood to lose. They went on to say that Rwanda’s nascent private sector will see a fall in revenue because of competition from the bigger companies within the region and the subsequent benefits for Rwanda.

Civil Society Wants EU Deal Delayed
Civil society organisations (CSOs) and trade experts have called for the extension of the signing of the EU and the EAC EPAs until all the contentious issues are ironed out. The final signing of the comprehensive agreement is slated for November. However, in a meeting in Kampala, civil society representatives argued that the two months left would not be enough to tackle the unresolved issues.

This, they noted, would be a disservice to Ugandans, if the deal was endorsed. Jane Nalunga, the Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) Country Director, said signing the deal would lead to unforeseen trade problems in the future.

Trade in EAC Up 41 Percent
Trade between Rwanda and its EAC partner states rose by 41 percent in the previous two years, an indication of the immense potential of the region’s trading block, a top government official said. The Minister of Trade and Industry, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, said that trade between Rwanda and the rest of the EAC States of Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania grew to US$337.6mn, up from US$237.8mn in 2008.