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Country risk of Rwanda : International trade

Rwanda's economic policy is open to foreign trade which accounts for 54.3% of the GDP (World Bank, 2020). In addition to benefiting from the U.S.-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), which entered into force in 2012, Rwanda is a member of the East African Community (EAC) - one of the most dynamic regional communities in Africa - the Common Markets of Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) and the WTO. Custom duties are relatively low in the country (7.3% on average) and non-tariff barriers are virtually non-existent.

Rwanda mainly exports gold (26.1%), petroleum oils (12.9%), tea (7.4%), coffee (6.4%), and niobium, tantalum, vanadium or zirconium ores and concentrates (3.9%). The country's imports are led by petroleum oils (15.2%), gold (7.6%), electrical apparatus for line telephony (3%), medicaments (2.6%), and cane or beet sugar (2.4%). Rwanda’s leading export detonations are the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (32.1%), the UAE (29.6%), Uganda (5.3%), Switzerland (4.6%), and Pakistan (3.4%); with imports come chiefly from China (19.9%), followed by India (8.8%), Kenya (8.7%), Tanzania (8.4%), and the United States (7.6%) .

Due to its strong growth and demand for manufactured goods, Rwanda has a structural trade deficit. In 2020, the country exported USD 1.4 billion worth of goods, while it imported USD 2.5 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of USD 1.1 billion. When accounting for services, the country's trade deficit reached USD 1.3 billion, as exports as services totalled USD 295 million and imports amounted to USD 543 million.

International Economic Cooperation
• The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
• East African Community (EAC)
• The Commonwealth
• Rwanda is a a member of WTO (since 22 May 1996)
Assessment of Commercial Policy
Rwanda Commercial Policy, as seen by WTO
Average Customs Duty (Excluding Agricultural Products)
Consumption tax (excise duty) is levied on certain locally manufactured products. The taxable value is calculated according to the selling price (exclusive of taxes), and the tax is payable when the taxable products are cleared out of the factory for consumer use or when the taxable services are provided. The rate ranges from 5% to 70%.

Rwanda is a member of the East African Community, which uses the East African Community Customs Act (EACMA) for levying import duty. EACMA’s Common External Tariffs system for goods originating outside the customs union prescribes three duties rates: 0% for raw materials and capital goods, 10% for intermediate goods, and 25% for finished goods. Enterprises established in Free Trade Zones are exempt from customs duty on machinery and inputs for exported products. According to data by the World Bank, the effectively applied tariff weighted average for Rwanda is 7.33%, and the most favored nation weighted average tariff is 13.32%.
All imported goods, except those listed as exempt, are also subject to the 1.5% Industrial Development Levy (IDL) and to the African Union Levy at a rate of 0.2%. Additionally, imported goods, regardless of whether they are exempted, are subject to a 0.2% Quality Inspection Fee (QIF), calculated on the customs value of imported goods. Excise tax is imposed on the manufacturer or importation of certain products, like soft drinks (5-39%), bottled water (10%), cigarettes (36% + RWF 30 per pack), alcohol (60-70%), fuels (RWF 183/lt on premium fuel and RWF 150/lt on gas oil), and lubricants (37%).

Useful Resources
Rwanda Revenue Authority
Rwanda Trade Portal
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
You can contact the Office of the Registrar General Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

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Latest Update: July 2022