Rwanda, Uganda Record Reduced Trade Flows

Rwanda and Uganda have recorded a reduction in trade flows in April and May 2020, according to the latest report from the COMESA Statistics on ‘COVID 19 Impact on Trade’. The report was prepared in the first two months in which COVID-19 spread to the region.

Imports into Rwanda declined by 32 % in April compared to March. Rusumo and Airport borders posts recorded declines in imports of 35% and 16% respectively. In Uganda a drop in imports were recorded at 30% in April compared to March. Malabo, Busia and Entebbe border posts recorded declines in imports of 35%, 28% and 24% respectively. Imports for the month of May were projected to decline by 20%.

Exports for Rwanda also declined by 8% in April compared to March 2020 while Uganda recorded a decline in Exports by 15% in April compared to March.

According to the report, reduction in customs duties are listed as among the critical challenges faced by the Rwanda Revenue Authority. Customs duty receipts declined by 55% in April compared to March. Rusumo, Kagitumba and the Airport border posts recorded declines in customs duty receipts of 52%, 71% and 41% respectively.

For Uganda, a reduction in customs duties was listed among the critical challenges faced by the Uganda Revenue Authority with declines of 42% recorded in April compared to March. Malaba, Busia and Entebbe recorded declined duties of 43%, 36% and 21% respectively.

Both countries have however put in place measures to respond to the COVID-19. In Rwanda for example, a dry port has been established near the border that operates 24/7. It is extended to all customs services to facilitate faster clearance of essential and relief goods at the first point of entry in an effort to contain the spread of the pandemic.

The country has also intensified the use of online services available in the Rwanda Electronic Single Window System through engagement with stakeholders both private and public (Clearing and forwarding Association, importers, exporters, warehouse operators and the general public to facilitate clearance of essential goods).

The country has also introduced flexible terms of payment for duties and taxes for essential goods by granting instalment facility.

In Uganda, the government has also introduced measures to facilitate the movement of goods, transport, persons and services. Some of the strategies include testing of drivers prior to transiting through Uganda and using online engagement with clients.

This report is part of a series that provides initial results on tracking trade flows in the COMESA region to demonstrate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on trade