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Rwanda: United States And Rwanda Hold High-Level Trade Talks

Published date:
Monday, 06 November 2006

U.S. and Rwandan officials October 31 convened their first high-level meeting under the recently signed United States-Rwanda trade and investment framework agreement (TIFA).

Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Karan Bhatia and Protais Mitali, the Rwandan minister of commerce, industry, investment promotion, tourism and cooperatives, led the talks.

The meeting provided an opportunity for U.S. and Rwandan officials to review the full scope of trade and investment relations between the two countries and to identify opportunities for further cooperation and attention.

Among the topics discussed were eliminating tariffs and nontariff barriers to trade, enhancing Rwanda's use of opportunities available under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), trade capacity building assistance, issues related to trade-related infrastructure, ways to enhance U.S.-Rwanda investment, and the World Trade Organization's Doha Round of global trade negotiations.

"The Bush administration is committed to working closely with African countries that are seeking to advance economic growth and development through trade," Ambassador Bhatia noted in a USTR press release. Bhatia led a multiagency U.S. government team to the TIFA meeting.

"Rwanda is one of our strongest partners in the region in this regard, and the U.S.-Rwanda TIFA provides an excellent mechanism for us to strengthen our cooperation on trade and investment issues. The Rwandan government has been a champion of free trade and open markets both at home and in the multilateral environment, where it has been an active and constructive participant in the WTO [World Trade Organization] Doha negotiations," he added.

During the meeting, Bhatia announced that an AGOA national workshop will be held in Rwanda in February 2007 to help Rwandan businesses make the most of the export opportunities available under AGOA.

USTDA Grants Awarded to Support Energy Projects

Bhatia also highlighted two recent grants by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), in cooperation with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), totaling $515,000, for energy-related projects. USAID announced at the meeting that it is exploring with the Rwandan government a possible program of technical assistance designed to enhance the business and investment environment in Rwanda.

Both sides, according to USTR, also discussed opportunities for increasing investment flows between the United States and Rwanda, including regulatory reforms, improvement of the business and investment climate and exploration of a possible future U.S.-Rwanda bilateral investment treaty.

After emerging from the devastation of the 1994 genocide, in which more than 800,000 Rwandans were killed, the Rwandan government embarked on a program of economic and political reform that has put the country on a path toward social reconciliation and economic recovery.

The U.S.-Rwanda trade and investment framework agreement, signed in June 2006, provides a forum to address trade issues and help enhance trade and investment cooperation between the United States and Rwanda.

Total trade between the United States and Rwanda was valued at $13.5 million in the first eight months of 2006, a 24 percent increase over the same period in 2005. U.S. exports to Rwanda during this period were valued at $9.6 million, increasing by 29 percent, and U.S. imports from Rwanda were valued at $3.9 million, increasing by 13 percent. The Rwandan government has shown a strong interest in expanding and diversifying its exports to the United States.

In the past year, Rwandan firms, with assistance from USAID, have undertaken partnerships with well-known U.S. retailers Macy's and Starbucks for trade in fine basketwork and specialty coffee, respectively.

U.S. trade capacity-building assistance to Rwanda has averaged about $2 million a year over the past three years and includes work in trade-related agriculture, financial sector development and trade facilitation.

The two USTDA grants that were announced formally at the meeting include a $150,603 grant for a possible two-phase feasibility study, with the ultimate objective of assessing the feasibility of extending an oil pipeline from Kampala, Uganda, to Kigali, Rwanda, and a grant of $364,740 to assist the Ministry of Infrastructure in determining the best ownership structure and financing plan for the Nyaborongo and Rukarara hydropower projects in Rwanda.

The AGOA national workshop announced during the meeting will be organized by the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda and the USAID-managed East and Central African Global Competitiveness Hub, based in Nairobi. It will be held in Kigali.

“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

Click here to view a sector profile of Rwanda’s bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-Beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.

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