Trade between Rwanda and Turkey could be enhanced, thanks to a new initiative between the two countries’ private sector bodies that was unveiled on Wednesday.
According to Stephen Ruzibiza, the Private Sector Federation (PSF) chief executive officer, the Rwanda-Turkey Business Council will strengthen economic ties between the two countries through trade promotion, co-ordination, as well as information, skills and knowledge sharing.
“Turkey is one of the major world economies, therefore, strengthening our relationship with the country is a right step that we expect will help us penetrate other global markets,” Ruzibiza said during the inauguration of the council in Kigali on Wednesday.
The function was graced by Turkish foreign economic relations board members and PSF Rwanda officials and local business leaders.
Ozen Ibrahim, the chairman of the council, said the initiative creates a channel for trade and investment opportunities in the two countries.
He added that the council will also facilitate industrial and technological co-operation to ensure mutual benefit by both parties.
“The council will, therefore, play a critical role in developing and executing strategies that promote strong economic ties.”
It will be equally helpful in attracting foreign direct investments from both sides, he added.
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has registered $400 million worth of investment projects from Turkey in the past three years.
According to Innocent Bajiji, the acting head of investment promotion and facilitation at RDB, Rwanda’s exports to Turkey have increased to over $8.5 million on annual basis, but the country’s imports more than double this figure.
“Rwanda imports about $21 million worth of commodities from turkey. Therefore, the new platform could help bridge the trade gap between the two countries,” Bajiji said.
Eric Rukwaya, a Kigali-based exporter, said the council could help Rwandan exporters to get more access to markets in Turkey and the European Union generally.
“Through this platform, we will be able to forge more partnerships through which we can penetrate the larger European market,” he said. It also gives us more negotiating power as exporters, he added.
Rwanda recorded a 0.3 per cent trade deficit during the third quarter of last year, spending $481.1 million (Rwf370.4 billion) on imports compared to $96.14 million (Rwf74 billion) from exports.
The country’s total exports decreased by 26.07 per cent during the period. Rwanda counts on initiatives like this one to increase its exports.
The new partnership between Rwanda and Turkish private sector bodies supports government’s efforts to increase exports by 28 per cent annually by 2018.