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Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Rwanda's economic policy is open to foreign trade which accounts for 48% of the GDP (World Bank, 2016). 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. 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.

Rwanda imports more than it exports. In 2016 exports amounted to 15% of the GDP whereas imports amounted to 33%. Imports reached USD 3.35 billion while exports stood at USD 1.59 billion (WTO). Rwanda has suffered in particular 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 a structural trade deficit, a trend expected to continue in the coming years. In order to correct the trade imbalance, the Government envisages investing in a telecommunications network as well as in more efficient roads in order to develop the industrial and tertiary sectors (51% of the GDP in 2016).

Rwanda's main import partners are China, the EAC member countries (The East African Community), India and United Arab Emirates. Its main export partners are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya and Switzerland.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Imports of Goods (million USD) 2,3002,3022,5632,5702,293
Exports of Goods (million USD) 591703723659744
Imports of Services (million USD) 4255113974271,062
Exports of Services (million USD) 359393325352851
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 181015238
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 9187613
Trade Balance (million USD) -1,274-1,151-1,269-1,235-1,300
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 4546484948
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 3232333533
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 1314151415

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

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, Latest 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, Latest 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, Latest 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: May 2018