Rwanda says it is reviewing its trade list with Uganda before allowing its goods onto its market, nearly four months after opening its main border.
While free movement of people between the countries has resumed , There are still restrictions on imports from Uganda.
Read:Optimism as Rwanda agrees to reopen border with Uganda after three years
This week, Rwanda’s Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said at a press conference that the process of reviewing the trade list is almost complete and the goods will be put on the market soon, subject to a quality check.
The review was necessary because Rwanda wants to enforce quality as well as protect local manufacturers who started producing some goods previously imported from Uganda, he said.
Uganda products, the prime minister said, must meet the stipulated Sta ndards in the Rwandan market.
“All I can say is that trade between the two countries will resume very soon,” says Dr. Ngirente aid on Wednesday after the start of the second phase of the Economic Recovery Fund (ERF).
Read:Ugandian manufacturers push for return to the Rwandan market
Ugandan importers and exporters are required to apply for a license from the Rwanda Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for manufactured products and from the Rwanda Regulatory, Competition and Consumer Protection Agency (RICA) for agricultural products.
“Rwanda invests in the development of its local manufacturing sector, including the promotion of products “Made in Rwanda”. That’s why we regulate the importation of goods,” Theobald Habiyaremye, director of FDA’s Food and Drug Import and Export Division, told The EastAfrican.
Read:Uganda and Rwanda leaders meet again at Muhoozi’s party
Cement was one of Uganda’s main exports to Rwanda before the joint border was closed.
However, in the last two years, Rwanda has turned to importing cement from Tanzania and Kenya, in addition to setting up another local factory.
There are currently two existing local cement producers, Cimerwa and Prime Cement, which have an annual installed capacity of 600,000 tons each.
Hima Cement Uganda, one of the leading cement exporters to Rwanda, announced The EastAfrican recently that their exports to Rwanda have not resumed, although talks about the resumption are ongoing exports are expected to resume.
“We are not currently exporting to Rwanda but will be resuming soon. However, we have already sent a verification team to Rwanda that will help us with our decision,” said Caroline Kezaabu, the company’s communications manager.
Other commodities include aluminium, corn, soap, electricity, pharmaceuticals, and fuel .
Uganda’s Ministry of Commerce estimated that the border closure cost Uganda over $200 million in export revenue to Rwanda, leaving a big dent as formal exports to Rwanda accounted for 5.8 percent of Uganda’s merchandise exports in 2018 .