28 and 30 September 2004

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson

See also:
> Press release: Continued reforms and technical assistance should help Rwanda in its efforts to achieve a dynamic economy

The present Review has allowed Members to come to a better understanding of Rwanda's economic situation, its reconstruction efforts since the 1994 genocide, the enormous challenges it still faces and its reform agenda. For this, we have been greatly helped by Rwanda's delegation, led by Prof. Paul Manasseh NSHUTI, Minister of Commerce, Industry, Investment promotion, Tourism and Cooperatives, and by the discussant, Mr. Neil McMillan.
Members commended Rwanda on its macroeconomic reform efforts, which have resulted in its economic growth during the past ten years. They noted Rwanda's dependence on tea and coffee, and stressed that its high production costs, due to poor infrastructure, energy shortages and high transport costs related to its landlocked geographical situation, needed to be addressed to improve its supply-side capacity and diversify its economy. To this end, Members welcomed government's economic programme “Rwanda Vision 2020”. Debt relief under the HIPC initiative and increased foreign direct investment should also help.

Members commended Rwanda on the role it played in helping to move forward the Doha Development Agenda, and were supportive of its intent to establish a National Committee on the WTO issues. Members congratulated Rwanda for its participation in the free-trade area of COMESA and welcomed the increase in its trade with the other members. However, Members warned against challenges and complexity of active involvement in several overlapping trade regimes. They also noted the potential gains for Rwanda from improvements in market access that would arise from a completion of negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda, especially in agriculture. Some concerns were however raised about the difficulties faced by Rwanda in fulfilling its obligations.

Members stressed that further macroeconomic and structural reforms would allow Rwanda to increase its benefits from the multilateral trading system, and invited Rwanda to further improve the transparency and predictability of its trade regime. Members were pleased that Rwanda was participating in the Integrated Framework (IF) and supported the Government's call for the Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) to be completed as soon as possible. They considered that the IF could help to meet priority technical assistance needs, and integrate trade reforms into Rwanda’s overall poverty reduction strategy.

Some clarification was sought on: the informal sector; the enactment of the new public procurement law; existing legislation on intellectual property rights; institutional framework; judiciary reform; investment regime; export promotion strategy; privatization; competition policy; services; sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures; other duties and charges; and price controls.

Members appreciated the responses provided by the Rwandan delegation.
I think that this meeting has allowed a profound reflection on assistance needed by Rwanda in the reconstruction of its economy. It has drawn attention to Rwanda's determination to continue with economic reforms, as well as to areas in which policy reforms could be further enhanced. I trust that the main considerations of this Review will be included into the Integrated Framework process in order to reinforce the linkages between trade policy and poverty reduction strategy. I urge all Members to support Rwanda in its efforts to tackle the challenges it faces, and to be attentive to its request for technical assistance.