Exporters move to solve challenges facing sector

Stakeholders in the exports sub-sector have unveiled plans they hope will help address challenges crippling the sector.

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Yvette Mukarwema, the Private Sector Federation (PSF) chief operations officer, said stakeholders under the Exporter Forum will lobby for policies that promote exports and export-related businesses.

Mukarwema said the forum would also work with banks so that they fund export-oriented initiatives to increase product quality and sector productivity.

“We want to sensitise exporters to understand the value of branding and packaging in marketing and selling a product. This will hopefully enhance the competitiveness of exports.”

The Exporters’ Forum was launched recently by PSF and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and brings together players from all sectors of the economy. Its main objective is to review the institutional set-up for export promotion and strengthening sector-specific infrastructure.

While commenting on the development, Mark Priestley, the Trade Mark East Africa country director, challenged exporters to focus on product quality than quantity “because that’s what will make local products competitive in international markets”.

David Bensusan, the Minerals Supply Africa chief, urged government to join the private sector and address the challenges facing exporters to foster the sector’s growth.

The government targets to increase exports by 28 per cent per year under the second phase of the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II), which is hoped to greatly narrow the trade deficit the country faces by 2017.

Rwanda’s exports are dominated by agricultural products with tea and coffee as the country’s major exports. During third quarter of 2013, the export industry raked in $139m compared to $110.2m earned during the same period in 2013.

Rwanda adopted national cross-border trade strategy in 2012 to enhance trade with neighbouring countries.

Recently, the East African Community drafted a new export strategy that is aimed at marketing the region as a single source of quality goods, and boosting trade among member states for the next four years.