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Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Rwanda's economic policy is open to trade. Nevertheless, foreign trade only accounts for 46% of the GDP (WTO, 2012-2014 average). Rwanda signed a bilateral agreement with the United States in December 2011. The country also belongs to the East African Community (EAC), one of the most dynamic regional communities in Africa. EAC members are Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. Despite recurrent tensions between some member states slowing the process, the EAC goal is to implement a common market with the use of a common currency (Shilling). Custom duties are relatively low in the country (14.4% on average) and non-tariff barriers are virtually non-existent. The main obstacles facing the Rwandan economy remain its position as a landlocked country (sea access is expensive and time consuming), an unstable geopolitical environment and a largely unskilled workforce.

From 2014 and 2015, imports increased by 5.8% whereas exports fell by 6.8%. As a result, the trade deficit increased. Rwanda in particular has suffered from a price drop in coffee as well as in certain minerals produced in the country. Due to its strong growth and demand for manufactured goods, Rwanda has experienced a structural trade deficit, a trend expected to continue in the coming years. In order to correct the trade imbalance, the Government anticipates investing in a telecommunications network as well as in more efficient roads in order to develop the industrial and tertiary sectors (50% of the GDP in 2015).

Rwanda's main trade partners are China, the EAC member countries (The East African Community), the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the European Union. Its exports are mainly minerals, coffee and tea.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20112012201320142015
Imports of Goods (million USD) 2,0392,3002,3022,5632,570
Exports of Goods (million USD) 464591703723659
Imports of Services (million USD) 547425511397427
Exports of Services (million USD) 368359393325352
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1819999
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 249191410
Trade Balance (million USD) -1,097-1,376-1,197-1,267-1,234
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 4344454645
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 3031313131
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 1413141514

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - 2016.

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
Democratic Republic of Congo 31.8%
Kenya 16.0%
United Arab Emirates 14.0%
Switzerland 8.8%
Burundi 5.8%
Singapore 3.2%
United States 3.0%
Belgium 2.9%
Uganda 2.4%
Hong Kong 1.9%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 21.2%
Uganda 11.2%
Kenya 7.8%
India 7.4%
United Arab Emirates 5.8%
Tanzania 5.3%
Germany 3.8%
Japan 3.2%
United States 2.6%
South Africa 2.5%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data


Main Products

0.6 bn USD of products exported in 2016
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 17.4%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 12.8%
Tea, whether or not flavoured 11.8%
Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated; coffee husks and skins; coffee substitutes containing coffee in any proportion 9.6%
Niobium, tantalum, vanadium or zirconium ores and concentrates 6.4%
Tin ores and concentrates 5.6%
Rice 3.3%
Wheat or meslin flour 2.7%
Animal or vegetable fats and oils and their fractions, partly or wholly hydrogenated, inter-esterified, re-esterified or elaidinized, whether or not refined, but not further prepared 2.1%
Tungsten ores and concentrates 1.9%
1.8 bn USD of products imported in 2016
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 4.1%
Transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, radio-telegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras 3.5%
Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not coloured 3.2%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 3.1%
Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose, in solid form 3.0%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 2.4%
Wheat and meslin 2.0%
Self-propelled bulldozers, angledozers, graders, levellers, scrapers, mechanical shovels, excavators, shovel loaders, tamping machines and road rollers 1.9%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 1.9%
Palm oil and its fractions, whether or not refined (excl. chemically modified) 1.6%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data


Main Services

1.0 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Government services
Communications services
1.3 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Government services
Communications services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Last Available Data


Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Main International Economic Cooperation
Member of COMESA - Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
Useful Resources
Rwanda Revenue Authority
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
You can contact the Rwanda Commercial Services Registration Agency (RCSRA) by Email.


Learn more about How to Export to the Rwanda on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Last Updates: June 2017