Washington D.C. - U.S. and Rwandan trade and
development officials today discussed ways to increase trade and investment
flows between the two countries. The discussions took place as part of the
second high-level meeting under the U.S.-Rwanda Trade and Investment Framework
Agreement (TIFA), signed in 2006.
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Karan K. Bhatia
co-chaired the meeting with Rwandan Minister of Commerce, Industry, Investment
Promotion, Tourism and Cooperatives Protais Mitali. U.S. Ambassador to
Rwanda Michael Arietti and representatives of fifteen U.S. Government agencies
participated in the meeting, which included discussions on recent trends in
two-way trade, negotiations toward a U.S.-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty,
implementation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the WTO Doha
negotiations, trade capacity building activities, and infrastructure
issues. The meeting also included a roundtable discussion with
representatives of the Rwandan and U.S. private sectors on means to
improve the environment for bilateral trade and investment.
“Rwanda is a leader among African
countries in its approach to trade and open markets. It is working to
improve its business and investment climate, is an active and constructive
participant in the Doha negotiations, and is committed to using trade as a means
to accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty,” said Ambassador Bhatia.
“Rwanda’s economic reform
since the 1994 genocide has captured the attention of many U.S.
companies. The U.S.-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty now being
negotiated - with world class investment protections - would complement
Rwanda’s economic reform efforts and
further enhance investor confidence.”
Since the last TIFA meeting in October 2006 in the Rwandan
capital of Kigali, the U.S. and Rwanda have launched negotiations toward a
Bilateral Investment Treaty, co-convened an AGOA National Workshop in Kigali to help Rwandan firms identify and pursue
opportunities in the U.S.
market, and consulted regularly on issues related to the Doha negotiations.
In November 2006, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) designated
Rwanda as eligible for
assistance under the MCC’s threshold country program, and Rwanda is now
working with the MCC on a prospective program of assistance.
The Bilateral Investment Treaty negotiations began in June
2007 and, since then, have made significant progress toward an agreement.
The negotiations are the first U.S. bilateral investment treaty
talks with a sub-Saharan African country in nearly a decade.
Under the TIFA workplan, a number of U.S. agencies are working with Rwandan officials
and the Rwandan private sector on policies and activities to improve the climate
for trade and investment flows between the U.S. and Rwanda and to help Rwanda use trade
to advance its economic development objectives.
Two-way United States-Rwanda goods trade increased by 37
percent in the first eight months of 2007, totaling $18.6 million.
U.S. imports from
Rwanda were valued at $7 million
during this period, up 77 percent from the same period in 2006, and consisted
mainly of tungsten ores and coffee. Substantially all Rwandan imports
entered the U.S. duty-free
during this period, with over half of total imports entering the
U.S. under preferences available
under the AGOA and the Generalized System of Preferences.
U.S. exports to
Rwanda totaled $11.5 million in the
first eight months of 2007, up 21 percent over the same period in 2006.
Several leading U.S.
companies are currently examining possible investment opportunities in
Rwanda in sectors such as information
technology, minerals and mining, and agriculture.
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