By David Himbara
General Paul Kagame’s strange economics hit global headlines in 2018 when the US suspended Rwanda from the American market.
The saga began in 2015 when the East African Community (EAC) countries threatened to ban used clothing and footwear imports from the US.
When reminded of the US-Africa free trade agreement under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda remained within the two-way trading framework.
Rwanda instead raised tariffs on the US imports by more than 1,000 percent, effectively banning imports of American products. Then President Donald Trump suspended Rwanda on July 30, 2018.
After the loss of the US market, Rwanda’s textiles exports stagnated at a miserable US$26,900.05 in 2019.
Then, in March 2019, Kagame closed the Uganda border, citing political interference. By 2020, the Rwanda-Uganda annual trade of over US$300 million had evaporated.
Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) confirmed that Rwanda-Uganda trade collapsed by over 99 percent. Kagame’s strange economics lingers on. Stay tuned.