RWANDA/CONGO – Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) are banking on their standardization and conformity assessment agreement to eliminate non-tariff barriers and increase trade.

Officials from Rwanda Standard Board (RSB) and DR Congo’s L’office Congolais de Contrôle (OCC) met in Kigali to review the progress on the implementation and discuss ways to further facilitate trade in both countries.

The agreement which was signed in October 2020, seeks to harmonize standards, conformity assessment and metrology services. In addition to facilitating cross-border trade, officials hope that the arrangement will spur consumer protection, animal health, and improve the protection of plants and the environment.

Raymond Murenzi, the Director-General of RSB said that as a result of the previous meeting, 161 products have so far been certified by both Rwanda and DR Congo to cross the borders.

“The products that were certified by RSB will be allowed to enter DR Congo. RSB has presented its standard marks to DRC so that whoever has a product that has it can cross the border without being checked again or being delayed. The same applies on the DRC side,” he said.

Gaby Lubiba Mampuya, Director General of OCC, said that they look forward to exchanging experience and defining the procedures that the two sides can take to better regulate products.

Since DR Congo is a major regional producer of chocolates, for instance, Mampuya said it aims to make sure that the chocolates that come from his country are of the same quality as those that come from elsewhere.

The neighboring DR Congo has great trade potential with Rwanda, with data from recent years showing growing trade and currently is Rwanda’s biggest regional trading partner.

According to data from United Nations COMTRADE, Rwanda’s exports to Dr Congo was US$372.59 million in 2019, more than what it had exported to the East African Community (EAC).

DR Congo has finally joined the EAC bloc nearly three years after making a formal application in June 2019, adding its more than 90 million market population to the regional trading bloc, as reported by Business Daily.

It is already a key African market for Kenyan firms with the latest official annual data showing exports earnings from DRC amounted to Sh14.3 billion in 2020 — only dwarfed by Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Egypt and South Sudan.

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