Rwanda Trade, Exports and Imports



Rwanda is predominantly a country of rural farmers, with few natural resources. About 90% of the population is engaged in agriculture and the remainder in the service sector. Tea and coffee are the main export commodities of Rwanda trade. Since 2001, growth has been driven by exports to the tune of 5% in the last five years.

Rwanda Trade: Exports

Despite the setback caused by the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has spared no efforts to bring its economy back on track. The signing of an Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1998 saw the beginning of privatization, with support from the World Bank. Rwanda’s exports include:

  • Tea

  • Coffee

  • Coltan

  • Cassiterite

  • Iron ore

  • Tin

  • Animal hides

Currently, Rwanda’s road to recovery and robustness are largely dependent on the financial fate of tea and coffee prices in the international market. In 2000, coffee production stood at 14,578,560 tons and in 2002, tea became the largest export item at 15,000 tons, translating into revenues of US$18 million. Animal hide and tin ore are Rwanda’s other export goods. Most of Rwanda’s exports go to China (9.1%), Germany (7.3%), the US (4.5%), Thailand (8.6%) and Belgium (4.1%). The total revenues generated by exports in Rwanda’s economy are around US$213 million (2009 est.).

Rwanda Trade: Imports

Rwanda’s trade imports are far larger than its exports and are in the region of $786 million (2009 est.). The main countries that goods are imported from include Kenya (15%), Uganda (13.1%), China (6.2%), Belgium (5.2%), and Germany (4.5%). France and Israel are also countries that Rwanda imports from. The main imports are:


  • Machinery and equipment

  • Steel

  • Cement and construction material

  • Petroleum products

  • Foodstuffs

The US is an important exporter to Rwanda, accounting for almost $10 million in imports annually since 1990-93, and over $40 million in 1994 and 1995. In 2007, the amount rose to approximately $17 million, a 20% increase over the 2006 level. Being a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community, roughly 90% of Rwanda’s imports come from COMESA countries and 34% from other African countries.