Zimbabwe has started looking at possibilities of exporting horticultural products into the Rwandan market as it seeks to increase trade with its East African counterpart.
With a population of 12.6m and a rapidly growing middle class, Rwanda has proven to be a lucrative market for Zimbabwean companies to invest in.
The two countries will host the inaugural Rwanda-Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference on March 24 to 26 in Kigali, Rwanda.
The conference is being organised by ZimTrade, Rwanda Development Board and AB Communications, among other stakeholders.
ZimTrade chief executive Allan Majuru said trade with Rwanda has been insignificant and this landmark investment conference was expected to open up new opportunities for both countries.
“We are going to put our countries together so that we can explore opportunities together for the benefit of both countries.
Last year, we went to Rwanda with a team from AB Communications and during the discussions with Rwanda Devel opment Board, we were told of the challenge of fresh produce.
“Therefore we saw that as an opportunity and there was a discussion about the possibility of exporting fresh produce to Rwanda.
Later on we then discovered that there are a lot of opportunities in Rwanda for us,” Majuru said.
He said Zimbabwe companies needed to exploit the daily flight schedule of Rwanda Airways for trade purposes.
During the conference there is also going to be a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries to create market access.
Trade between Zimbabwe and Rwanda peaked to US$156,000 in 2018 from US$6,000 in 2011. Zimbabwe exports to Rwanda increased to US$90,000 in 2014 from US$6,000 in 2011.
It tumbled to US$4,000 in 2018. During the same period, Zimbabwe’s imports from Rwanda increased from a paltry US$1,000 in 2013 to US$18,000 in 2015 and to US$152,000 in 2018.
“What we have exported to Rwanda is insignificant compared to the import bill of Rwanda. I know it’s a challenge but there is an opportunity for us to tap into that market,” Majuru said.
Rwanda Ambassador to Zimbabwe James Musoni said the two countries are making history together since this is the first time that Zimbabwe and Rwanda have taken bilateral relations to another level.
Musoni said Rwanda provides opportunities for investment, particularly in sectors such as Infrastructure, Agriculture, Energy, Tourism, ICT, Real Estate and Construction.
“With relations between Rwanda and Zimbabwe getting stronger by the day, facilitation of trade and investment in these exciting sectors will be seamless,” Musoni said.
Rwanda has over the years experienced sustained high economic growth of over 8% average year on year real Gross Domestic Product growth rate since 2007, making Rwanda the fastest growing economy in Africa.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Deputy Minister David Musabayana who was the guest speaker said with the current performance of Rwanda on the economic front, there was need to tap into that market.
He said the two governments are planning to work on strengthening engagement and ties within the framework of the Joint Permanent Commission of Co-operation which will provide for a coordinated framework for cooperation between the two friendly countries.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries chief executive Sekai Kuvarika said this was an opportunity for the private sector to establish trade and investment.