Office of the US Trade Representative
United States and Rwanda Sign Agreement to Deepen Trade and Investment Relations
7 June 2006
WASHINGTON - The United States and Rwanda today signed an agreement aimed at deepening and strengthening trade and investment ties between the two countries.
The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) will create and provide a formal consultative mechanism to address bilateral trade issues and will help enhance trade and investment relations between the United States and Rwanda and may lead to sector specific and other trade-enhancing agreements.
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Karan Bhatia and Rwandan Minister of Commerce, Industry, Investment Promotion, Tourism, and Cooperatives Protais Mitali signed the TIFA on the final day of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum - an annual meeting between the United States and 37 Sub-Saharan African countries
"Rwanda in many ways is a model for what a developing country needs to do to harness trade to advance economic growth and development," Ambassador Bhatia said. "The Rwandan Government has taken great strides to open its economy and to improve the business environment within the country. The TIFA will provide an opportunity for us to work together to expand trade and investment between our two countries and to work more closely in a broad range of trade-related areas."
"Rwanda views the United States of America as an important commercial partner and welcomes the signing of this framework agreement," said Rwandan Minister Mitali. "The TIFA clarifies our governments’ orientation and commitment to cooperation and forms the basis for increased dialogue between our two economies. We are most thankful to the U.S. Government, not only for opening the U.S. market through the AGOA facility but also for reaching out to our economy through the TIFA mechanism. We believe this agreement will help in strengthening American investors’ confidence in our business environment."
The World Bank’s Doing Business 2006 report cited Rwanda as the top economic reformer in sub-Saharan Africa. Rwanda has also been a champion of free trade and open markets both regionally and globally - through its participation in the Free Trade Area of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and its active and constructive role in the World Trade Organization’s Doha negotiations.
Under the TIFA, a United States-Rwandan Council on Trade and Investment will be formed to address a wide range of trade and investment issues that include, but are not limited to, trade capacity building, intellectual property, labor, investment, environmental issues, and enhancing the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises in trade and investment. The TIFA Council will establish an ongoing dialogue that will help increase commercial and investment opportunities by identifying and working to remove impediments to trade and investment flows between the United States and Rwanda.
The United States has TIFAs with several other important trading partners in sub-Saharan Africa, including Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU/UEMOA).
U.S. imports from Rwanda were valued at $6.3 million in 2005, up 17 percent from 2004, and consisted mainly of coffee and tungsten ores. The Rwandan Government has shown a strong interest in increasing and diversifying exports to the United States by using its eligibility under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. In the past year, Rwandan firms, with assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development, have undertaken partnerships with Macy’s and Starbucks for trade in fine basketwork and specialty coffee, respectively. U.S. exports to Rwanda totaled $10.2 million in 2005, a decline of eight percent from 2004.