China will start its zero-tariff to 98% of products from 16 developing countries including Rwanda effective next month, according to China’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
Officials say the move is aimed at increasing the number of imports from low developed countries including those in Africa and some Asian countries as well as cementing strong trade ties in future.
Wu Deng, China’s Director General, Department of African Affairs, MFA, China said in a Tweet that; “From September 1, (sic), China will increase the scope of products enjoying zero-tariff treatment to 98% for 16 least developed countries including Rwanda, Djibouti and Togo”
His tweet added; “The tax free policy will gradually expand to all least developed countries and increase imports from Africa.”
Most of the countries covered by this trade policy are located on the African continent including Togo, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Guinea Conakry, Rwanda, Sudan, Chad, and Djibouti and Asia.
Also, according to the initial statement released last month, the zero-tariff statute will cover 8,786 imported products.
It is expected that the preferential treatment will gradually expand to all the least developed countries having diplomatic relations with China according to sources.
Rwanda-China diplomatic and trade relations span over 50 years where the two countries have been cooperating on energy, infrastructure, and education among others.
During Covid-19 in 2020, China cooperated with Rwanda in the fight against the pandemic donating to Rwanda 500,000 doses of vaccine and batches of medical supplies including PPE’s, testing kits for COVID-19 and other medical equipment plus the grant worth US$6 million debt to Rwanda so to help Rwanda’s economy to recover from the pandemic.
Figures from the Organization for Economic and Development report (OECD) indicate that China exported $63.9 million and imported $5.29million from Rwanda, resulting in a positive trade balance of $58.6 million.
In addition, the figures show China’s exports increased by $39.1million from US$24.8 million to 63.9 million between June 2021 and June 2022 while imports from Rwanda increased by $3.1 million from $2.18million to $5.29million.
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The products that Rwanda exports to China are mainly agricultural products and minerals such as Tungsten ore, Zirconium Ore, Vanadium and Niobium.
Meanwhile, Alibaba Group and Rwanda have an existing partnership that allows increased exportation of additional Rwandan products to China and a training program for Rwandan students to learn cross-border e-commerce.
The Rwanda Development Board, which oversees investments in the country’s economy, signed a membership in the Electronic World Trade Platform. Rwanda was the first African country to join the eWTP, an Alibaba-led initiative that aims to lower barriers to global trade for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) via e-commerce.