文｜张梅 本刊记者 翻译｜苗佳雨
Access to Regional Market Begins with Rwanda
——Interview with H.E.James Kimonyo, Rwanda's Ambassador to China
By Zhang Mei
In January, H.E.James Kimonyo, Rwanda's new Ambassador to China, said in an interview with the reporter that “The good relations with the People’s Republic of China have brought opportunities for Chinese companies to invest and do business in Rwanda and access the regional market. Rwandan exporters also have access to the biggest market in the world and we are seeing an increase of Rwandan products being exported to China. Opportunities are in several sectors including manufacturing, processing, health, energy, education, etc.
According to Rwandan media reports, experts predict that the annual growth rate of the economy in 2019 is expected to reach 10%.
James Kimonyo said that indeed the Economy of Rwanda is on course to surpass the 8.5 per cent growth rate projected in November this year by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). We recorded a growth of 11.9 per cent in the period between July and September 2019, with an increase of the value of all finished goods and services produced in Rwanda.
The rapid economic growth is due to the growth in service sector, industries and reform undertaken in agriculture. The numbers show that the services sector contributed the largest share of 49 per cent of GDP while the agricultural sector contributed 27 per cent and the industrial sector contributed 17 per cent.
The service sector grew by 13 per cent, driven by an increase of 25 per cent in wholesale and retail trade activities of locally made and imported products, 18 per cent in transport services due to RwandAir expansion of its routes, 9 per cent in financial services. The agriculture sector grew by 8 per cent with food crops and exports crops such as tea and coffee increasing their contribution to GDP.Industry sector growth was 14 per cent with the main contributors being construction activities and manufacturing activities growing.
In 2020 Rwanda marks the end of Vision 2020.
The Ambassador told reporters that Vision 2020 was a reflection of our aspiration and determination as Rwandans, to build a united, democratic and inclusive Rwandan identity, after so many years of authoritarian and exclusivist dispensation. The vision had as main pillars the establishment of good governance and a capable state, human resource development to build a knowledge-based economy, building a private sector-led economy, infrastructure development, developing a productive and market-oriented agriculture, increasing regional and international economic integration.
The achievements have been surprising to many; with Rwanda realizing rapid economic growth and macroeconomic stability. Since the launch of Vision 2020 in 2000, the GDP of the country has grown from $1.73 billion in 2000 to $10.21 billion in 2019.
Private sector investments have been a key driver of growth and development and the government has continuously made reforms to facilitate private sector growth, developing infrastructure, making it easy to access finance and to do business.
We have increasing the proportion of the budget financed from domestic resources as opposed to external loans and grants. In 2018/19 more than 84% of our national budget came from domestic resources, when in 2005 it was only 55%.
The goals we set for ourselves have been achieved to an extent of more than 85%. The targets which have not yet been achieved have been integrated in the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1). The National Strategy for Transformation is a Seven Year Government Programme (7YGP) which will see the crossover from Vision 2020 towards Vision 2050. This strategy is expected to lay the foundations for decades of sustained growth and transformation that will accelerate the move towards achieving high standards of living for all Rwandans, which is the goal of Vision 2050.
Vision 2050 targets Rwanda to become an upper-middle income country by 2035 and a high-income country by 2050. We target to eliminate poverty by 2030, reach a GDP per capita of USD $4,036 by 2035 and USD $12,476 by 2050. This will require a sustained 10 per cent of annual economic growth for the next 30 years. This might seem impossible to many but as Rwanda has shown that with good leadership and right mindsets, anything is possible.
Regarding Rwanda's business environment, the Ambassador said that today Rwanda, at 38th rank, is the only Low-Income Country in the top 50 of the 2020 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report. According to this World Bank Report, Rwanda is ranked No.1 in East Africa and 2nd in the whole Africa in ease of doing business.
In order to attract more FDI and create a good business environment, the Government took a decision to establish the Rwanda Development Board, as a one stop institution to provide key services, and expedite decisions affecting investors as well as reforms for a very conducive business environment.
The establishment of Rwanda Development Board brought all the agencies responsible for business registration, investment/export promotion, privatization and specialist agencies which support the priority sectors of ICT and tourism as well as SMEs and human capacity development in the private sector all under one roof. This meant less legwork for investors as they had one major institution to work with, as well as time and financial savings for the Government.
The Government also put in place a number of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, making Rwanda one of the best places to invest and do business, the best place to set up a factory and sell Made in Rwanda products. Among other incentives we can cite 0% corporate income tax (CIT) for companies which have their headquarters or regional office in Rwanda and fulfill a number of requirements like investment of at least $10M in tangible/intangible assets and providing training to Rwandans. With Rwanda being the safest country in Africa, the investor’s safety and the safety of their property is guaranteed. Investors have the right to own property and Rwanda’s investment code has articles protecting investors’ capital, assets, intellectual property rights, etc.
We have a Made in Rwanda Policy where companies operating in the manufacturing sector are exempt from paying VAT and import duty on all imports of raw materials and capital machinery, there is an exemption of customs tax for products used in Export Processing Zones, there is free repatriation of capital and assets, etc. Investor’s in Rwanda get to enjoy the huge regional market. Rwanda has strategic access to four countries and a catchment area of a consumer market of nearly 60 million people reachable by road, barely four hours away from Kigali in all directions. With Rwanda being part of the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, investors in Rwanda have direct access to a market of more than 500 million people. And with the African Continental Free Trade Area which has already come into force, now you can access a market of 1.3 billion people with a collective GDP of more than $2.2 trillion.
Regarding the cooperation between Rwanda and China, the Ambassador said that under the Belt and Road Initiative and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Rwanda has registered more than 90 investments projects from China and China joint ventures worth about 500 Million USD, creating more than 10,000 jobs. Currently we have more than 900 Chinese companies doing business in Rwanda in various sectors including manufacturing, processing, real estate, mining, tourism, etc. In trade, we have seen increase in imports and exports between Rwanda and China, with Rwanda exporting to China minerals, agriculture products like coffee, tea, chili, stevia, animal products like skins and hides, etc. The imports from China cover a whole range of sectors, with electronic products, machinery, clothing, construction materials, processed food, etc.
The good business environment in Rwanda is what led some of the largest companies like Alibaba Group to partner with Rwanda through eWTP (Electronic World Trade Platform), C&H Garments established a garment factory which has created many jobs and exporting products in many european countries, Tiankang Group established medical technology factories, etc.
We hope to see increased cooperation in all sectors, as it is the vision of the leaders of both countries. Rwanda and China established diplomatic ties 48 years ago and currently the relationship is at its highest. The good relations have brought opportunities for Chinese companies to invest and do business in Rwanda and access the regional market. Rwandan exporters also have access to the biggest market in the world and we are seeing an increase of Rwandan products being exported to China. Opportunities are in several sectors including manufacturing, health, energy, education, etc. His Excellency President Xi Jinping’s vision on win-win cooperation and shared future is not just a slogan; it is real and it is happening. This is a partnership that we highly cherish.
编辑 | 张梅