Uganda’s exports to Rwanda rebound by 98.8%
Uganda's exports to Rwanda are showing signs of recovery after six months of restoring borders for trade.
The border closure, which lasted nearly three years, led Uganda's exports to Rwanda to decline to just $60,000 (Shs230m) in July 2019 following a trade and political dispute between the two regional neighbors.
But the tide is gradually changing. The latest Bank of Uganda records released in the month of July indicate that the country exported $5.22 million worth of goods (Shs20 billion) to Rwanda – a 98.8 percent recovery.
Experts who spoke to this newspaper about the increase expressed mixed opinions, saying that while $5.2 million is not yet equivalent to the initial average monthly earnings of $17 million, it is promising.
Mr. John Levre, head of exports at the Uganda Export Promotion Council (UEPB) in an interview with that newspaper, said yesterday that trade was gaining momentum after the reopening, which took place earlier this year.
“Until we get back to the level we were before the confrontation, we have to be careful about our expectations,” Levre said.
He also added that the overall recovery will also be influenced by factors caused by global economic trends.
Lwere said: “During the staff leave, Rwanda bought similar items that it had previously received from Uganda from other destinations. Therefore, Uganda needs to look for ways to attract customers to come back and buy from us.”
Dr. Fred Muhumuz, an economist, says equally: “We cannot remember that the importer was also too hungry and must import a lot of food to replenish stocks. In the future, we may see a decrease in the level. However, $5.2 million is still well below previous levels of $15-$20 million earned per month,” Muhumusa added.
Before closing, Ugandan exports to Rwanda – mainly cement and food – stood at more than $211 million (Shs812b) in 2018, according to world bank data, while Rwanda exported $13 million worth of goods (Shs50b) to Uganda.
In 2019, trade fell sharply, and the situation became even more aggravated due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Reopening the border
Rwanda officially opened its borders with Uganda on March 7 after nearly three years of closure. Over the past 35 months, when the border has been closed, there have been at least four tripartite meetings involving Angola's President Joao Lurenso and Mr. Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as a series of lower-level meetings between officials from the two countries' foreign ministries.