Cross-border expos open new opportunities for local traders

Murebwayire shows Rusizi officials some of the products at the expo. Courtesy.

The Private Sector Federation (PSF) has embarked on organising cross-border exhibitions as part of efforts to link local exporters to their foreign counterparts.

The first exhibition is underway in Rusizi District bordering DR Congo, with 40 local exhibitors are showcasing various agricultural products.

The expo, that started yesterday, will end on Saturday , and was organised by PSF’s chamber of Agriculture.

It is expected to help exhibitors identify new markets for Rwanda agricultural products.

While opening the exhibition, Rusizi District Mayor Fredrick Harerimana assured exporters that a new warehouse will be constructed at the border to store their goods.

“Some exporters have always raised the issue of lack of storage facilities at this border. However, we are going to discuss this with other stakeholders to construct these warehouses,” he said.

The agriculture expo follows another agribusiness trade fair held in Goma, DR Congo in 2016 in partnership with the neighbouring farmers’ association in the vast country.

At the end of the exposition on Saturday, exhibitors are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to formalise cooperation between exporters of the two countries.

Callixte Kanamugire, the Chief Advocacy Officer, PSF, said that the federation is currently surveying other potential markets in different countries where Rwandan products can be exported.

“We cannot close the trade deficit gap unless we promote exports. We organise these events to facilitate our traders, that’s why we will continue identifying other external markets for Rwandan products,” he said, while addressing exhibitors.

Christine Murebwayire, one of the exhibitors and chairperson of agriculture chamber, PSF, noted that DR Congo has enormous market potential for Rwandan exports.

She added that it’s imperative for Rwandan exporters to produce quality goods.

“DR Congo has a huge market for our exports. Most of our exhibitors have sold-off all their products and they’re stocking more. We expect at the end to sign agreements with our Congolese counterparts to formalise our trade,” she said.

Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda have previously signed COMESA Simplified Trade Regime (STR), which allows small-scale traders to import products not exceeding the value of $2,000 duty-free.

The STR programme was initiated by regional bloc COMESA to help increase trade among small-scale cross-border business dealing in small quantities of goods.

The initiative aims to simplify clearing procedures as well as reduce the cost of trading by making it possible for small-scale cross-border traders’ consignments to benefit from the removal of Customs Duty (COMESA Preferential Treatment).