Burundi products are exported not only towards the sub-region, Western and Asian countries, but also to America. Burundi exports consist largely of primary products (merchant coffee, raw hides, tea, crude palm oil, nobium ores, living fish, living animals), manufactured products (sheets, cement, soft drinks, sparking water, dark glass bottles, beer, cigarettes, cotton fabrics, sugar, soap).
Other industrial processing units are already exploiting the export opportunities engendered by the East African Community market with the support of Traidlinks, an organization that helps the East African Community companies to export in the region. Nevertheless, there are several opportunities to export Burundi products. Indeed, Burundi has ratified the protocols establishing the East African Community Customs Union since 1 July 2009 whereas he is a member of the Free Trade Zone of COMESA since 2004.
The membership of the East African Community Customs Union and the COMESA Free Zone Area offer Burundian products opportunities for export. These mechanisms provide customs facilities to products on these markets (elimination of duties customs for all products from Burundi).
The European Union initiative "Everything but Arms" gives customs benefits (tariff reductions) to products declared to be of African origin, and access to the European market. In order to support exports from developing countries, most Western countries have adopted the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). Under the GSP system, a large number of African products in general, including those from Burundi, benefit from reduced import tariffs, providing African exporters an advantage over the competitors who are not eligible for GSP.
The US offers the Growth and Opportunity Act for Africa (AGOA) in addition to the GSP. AGOA has opened a 2 000 additional products market eligible for duty-free entry into the US market. Burundi products once exported under this system, automatically benefit from the customs advantages, which allow its products to be more competitive thanks to the tariff reductions.
Yet, a very important new market will be created with the completion of negotiations on the establishment of the Free Trade Zone Tripartite COMESA-EAC-SADC among 26 African countries. It will require Burundian economic operators to position their products so that the customs advantages resulting from this Zone become beneficial to Burundian economic operators in general and particularly the national economy.
We cannot talk about the export opportunities of Burundian products without talking about constraints related to it.
Nowadays constraints weigh heavily on the exportable supply such as limited knowledge on the rapidly changing global markets (especially for foodstuffs). In particular, emerging markets, insufficient knowledge of international norms and standards, including sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards; leading to substandard products constitute major challenges to the development of export sector.
Moreover, these constraints are exacerbated by a limited knowledge of market conditions, the existence of non-tariff barriers having a direct impact on trade costs, structural distortions, supply constraints and regulatory issues having a negative impact on Burundi exports.
Several terms of reference have been published in order to conduct studies geared to promoting exports. The findings of these studies will spearhead the actions related to export promotion in order to increase export resulting to more earning foreign currency for the country.