Rwanda, DRC to streamline border trade

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For some years Rwandan business persons communities operating between the Rwanda-DR Congo borders have been having security issues with border officials and traders on the Congo side as many have been arrested, denied entry and their goods confiscated.

Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) delegates from Rwanda and neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are now talking in Kigali to streamline the cross border trade policies between the two countries

The two-day talks (closed to the press) will discuss policy measures that will enhance small and medium business activities, and focus on resolving trade hazards that are especially faced by women across the two borders.

The meeting is also expected to build on earlier talks over cross border trade barriers by Congolese and Rwandan border district officials.

The meeting is in line with the COMESA trade implementation programs between member states.

Robert Musafiri, the Director General of Trade and Investment at Rwanda’s Ministry of Trade and Industry said that the meeting aims to discuss and agree on the list of common traded products between the two countries.

He also noted that Rwanda has developed a comprehensive cross border trade strategy and is putting in place the required infrastructure such as roads, markets along main borders in order to increase and facilitate trade.

“The trade between the two countries has grown at an average of more than 60 percent annually in the last three years. To maintain this momentum it requires a coordinated and focused effort from both countries, especially in transport networks, storage facilities,” Musafiri said.

Jean Jacques Chiribagula Ntwali, the advisor to the DR Cong’s Minister of Trade said that the Congolese delegation has already noted the trade barriers after visiting some of the border activities in Goma (DRC) and Gisenyi (Rwanda).

“This will be vital for us to come up with the list of items that can be traded so as to resolve some of the barriers which small and medium traders face. In order to ease border trade issues, we are also having similar discussions with Zambia, and next will be Burundi” Ntwali said.

Peace Basemera, an official at Rwanda’s ministry of Trade and Industry says cases of harassment of Rwandan traders doing business across the Congo border have reduced over time and there is some progress in streamlining cross border trading