Washington, D.C. – U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Rwandan Minister of Trade and Industry François Kanimba today ratified the U.S.-Rwanda bilateral investment treaty (BIT) by exchanging treaty instruments of ratification signed by President Obama and Rwandan Prime Minister Damien Habumuremyi. The ratification took place at a ceremony hosted by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). The treaty will enter into force thirty days after ratification.
“I am proud to participate in the ratification of this treaty with our Rwandan partners today because U.S. investment in Rwanda and elsewhere supports the U.S. economy and jobs here at home,” said Ambassador Kirk. “This treaty will strengthen our two countries’ economic ties and enhance the confidence of U.S. investors in Rwanda, as well as Rwandan investors in the United States. It will also help to promote the new investment that is critical to Rwanda’s economic development. We see Rwanda as a leader in seeking to transform its economy through open trade and investment. We hope that the U.S.-Rwanda bilateral investment treaty will serve as a model for future agreements with other African countries.”
In his remarks, Minister Kanimba affirmed the strength of the U.S.-Rwanda trade and investment relationship and the importance of the newly ratified Bilateral Investment Treaty.
Undersecretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Robert D. Hormats, who also participated in the event, added that “bilateral investment treaties that help forge strong economic ties between countries are beneficial for the United States and our developing country partners. The capital inflows help developing countries grow and in turn they become important consumers for U.S. goods and services.”
Total two-way goods trade between Rwanda and the United States totaled $51 million in 2010. U.S. exports to Rwanda were $29.5 million and imports from Rwanda totaled $21.5 million. Top U.S. exports in 2010 were vaccines, medical devices, and electronics. Coffee comprised over 85 percent of U.S. imports from Rwanda in 2010. Other leading imports from Rwanda were tungsten, pyrethrum (a natural insecticide), and baskets.
The U.S.-Rwanda BIT is the first BIT that the United States has signed with an African country in nearly a decade. It will be the sixth BIT to enter into force with a partner in sub-Saharan Africa. The United States currently has five BITs in force in sub-Saharan Africa, with Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo, and Senegal.
The U.S.-Rwanda BIT was signed in Kigali in 2008 and the United States Senate unanimously approved the treaty on September 26, 2011. The treaty provides investors with legal protections that underscore the two countries’ shared commitment to open investment and trade policies. These protections include non-discriminatory treatment of investors and investments; the right to freely transfer investment-related funds; prompt, adequate, and effective compensation in the event of an expropriation; freedom from specified performance requirements, such as domestic content or technology transfer requirements; and provisions to ensure transparency in governance. The treaty also gives investors in all sectors the right to bring investment disputes to neutral, international arbitration panels. USTR and the Department of State co-led the negotiation of this treaty.