Wednesday, 19th August 2020, Arusha, Tanzania: In June 2019, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) applied for admission to join the East African Community (EAC). Despite the country sharing its borders with 5 of EAC partner states; South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, EAC’s trade with the DRC is significantly low. The East African Business Council in collaboration with GIZ Creating Perspectives Project today launched a study titled; “The opportunities for trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo”, revealing trade opportunities that SMEs in the region can tap into.
The report finds that the value of goods imported in the DRC in 2019, stood at USD 6.6 billion. However, EAC exports to the DRC in 2018, stood at USD 855.4 million, representing 11.5 % of total DRC imports. The value of EAC partner states exports to the DRC in 2018 were as follows; Rwanda – USD 337.4 million, Uganda – USD 204.3 million, Kenya- USD 149.8 million, Tanzania- USD-144.9 million and Burundi at USD- 18.9 million.
The study reveals China is the top exporter to the country commanding a share of 31.2 %, followed by South Africa at 15.8 % and Zambia 13%.
During the launch of the study, EABC CEO, Dr Peter Mathuki urged EAC partner states to fast-track the admission of DRC into the regional bloc noting that it sources for goods that the EAC can ably supply, from very distant markets.
“DRC will benefit from the larger EAC Common Market and Common External Tariff framework. It will also have access to sea ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam at competitive rates. Their huge population of 81 million people also provides a vast opportunity for SMEs from the EAC region,” Dr Mathuki said.
The study finds that non-tariff barriers in DRC have hampered business translating to high cost of doing business in the country.
“EABC being the apex body for the private sector in the region will play a critical role in advocating for ease of doing business in DRC which will in turn lower cost of doing business, making DRC competitive, as we prepare to join the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” Dr Mathuki said.
The study reveals that there is a large market for SMEs in EAC partner states in various sectors. It made recommendations for particular niche areas where SMEs can take advantage of. This include; SMEs in the textile clusters particularly those handling clothes made from cotton. SMEs handling processed foodstuffs such as raw cane sugar and sugar confectionery; food preparations, such as tomato sauce, vinegar and baking soda; plastic and rubber.
This according to Dr. Peter Mathuki, the Executive Director /Chief Executive Officer East African Business Council (EABC)