Rwanda flag Rwanda: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Rwanda

Foreign Trade in Figures

Rwanda's economic policy is open to foreign trade which accounts for 61% of the GDP (World Bank, latest data available). In addition to benefiting from the U.S.-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), Rwanda is a member of the East African Community (EAC) - one of the most dynamic regional communities in Africa - the Common Markets of Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) and the WTO. Custom duties are relatively low in the country and non-tariff barriers are virtually non-existent. Rwanda mainly exports food and live animals (22.8%, mostly tea and coffee), crude materials, inedible, except fuels (13.4%), manufactured goods classified chiefly by material (6.7%); whereas imports are led by machinery and transport equipment (18.7%), food and live animals (17.1%), other commodities & transactions, n.e.s (15.1%), manufactured goods classified chiefly by material (14.3%), mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (11.0% - data National Institute of Statistics Rwanda, 2023).

Rwanda main export partners in 2023 were the United Arab Emirates (56.8%), the DRC (10.4%), China (5%), Hong Kong (2.6%), and the U.S. (1.1%). On the other hand, imports came chiefly from China (18.7%), Tanzania (13.6%), India (10.5%), the United Arab Emirates (5.4%), and South Africa (2.7% - data National Institute of Statistics Rwanda).

Due to its strong growth and demand for manufactured goods, Rwanda has a structural trade deficit. In 2022, the country exported USD 2.1 billion worth of goods, while it imported USD 3.5 billion (WTO). Concerning services, exports stood at USD 883 million against USD 878 million in imports. According to the World Bank, the country’s trade deficit stood at around 16.2% of its GDP in 2022 (from 15.6% one year earlier). Preliminary figures from the National Institute of Statistics show that, in 2023, the country exported USD 2.9 billion worth of goods, while imports totalled USD 9.4 billion.

 
Foreign Trade Values 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 2,6592,5422,8953,5693,897
Exports of Goods (million USD) 1,2411,4081,5312,1112,479
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,033520701878949
Exports of Services (million USD) 1,0155215768811,047

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 55.858.055.254.760.4
Trade Balance (million USD) -1,155-1,465-1,650-1,659-1,990
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,298-1,482-1,649-1,746-1,985
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 8.118.1-3.43.616.1
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 10.219.9-9.22.930.1
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 34.736.235.935.237.9
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 21.121.819.319.522.5

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20232024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 14.114.512.912.613.0
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 15.1-0.36.15.13.1

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Memberships
• The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
• East African Community (EAC)
• The Commonwealth
• Rwanda is a a member of WTO (since 22 May 1996)
 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2018
Democratic Republic of Congo 33.6%
Switzerland 8.8%
Hong Kong SAR, China 6.9%
United Arab Emirates 4.6%
United Kingdom 4.4%
See More Countries 41.7%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2018
China 18.4%
India 10.2%
United Arab Emirates 9.8%
Uganda 8.5%
Kenya 6.2%
See More Countries 46.9%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

Main Products

1.0 bn USD of products exported in 2018
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...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 13.1%
Tea, whether or not flavouredTea, whether or not flavoured 9.0%
Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated;...Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated; coffee husks and skins; coffee substitutes containing coffee in any proportion 8.2%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 7.3%
Precious stones and semi-precious stones, whether...Precious stones and semi-precious stones, whether or not worked or graded, but not strung, mounted or set, ungraded precious stones and semi-precious stones, temporarily strung for convenience of transport (excl. diamonds and imitation precious stones and semi-precious stones) 7.1%
See More Products 55.2%
2.8 bn USD of products imported in 2018
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...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 18.4%
Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular...Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; other apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, incl. apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network [such as a local or wide area network]; parts thereof (excl. than transmission or reception apparatus of heading 8443, 8525, 8527 or 8528) 4.8%
RiceRice 2.5%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...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) 2.3%
Wheat and meslinWheat and meslin 2.1%
See More Products 69.9%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import-Export Flows.

 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: May 2024