The U.S. established diplomatic relations with Rwanda in 1962, following its independence from a Belgian-administered trusteeship. From 1990 to 1994, the country experienced civil war and genocide. The U.S. seeks to help Rwanda meet the needs of its population, including increased social cohesion in a peaceful, democratic, and inclusive Rwanda that provides good governance and an enabling environment for private sector-led growth. The U.S. supports Rwandan efforts to increase democratic participation, enhance respect for civil and political rights, build capacity of its peacekeeping forces, grow its economy, and improve the quality and outcomes of health care and basic education. Rwanda is one of the world’s poorest countries, but it has made progress in developing national and local government institutions, economic development, maintaining security, promoting reconciliation, achieving Millennium Development Goals, and strengthening the justice system.
U.S. Assistance to Rwanda
The U.S. assists Rwanda in providing basic health services for the populace; expanding economic opportunities in rural areas, particularly through a strengthened agricultural production and food security program; protecting and promoting the country’s unique biodiversity; strengthening democracy engagement between civil society and government; expanding access to electricity; and improving the foundational educational system and skills (literacy, numeracy, and workforce readiness) that prepare Rwandan youth for a modern service-based economy. These goals are carried out through various presidential initiatives such as Feed the Future; Power Africa; Trade Africa; and the Global Health Initiative, including the President’s Malaria Initiative and PEPFAR. U.S. assistance also supports Rwanda’s refugee response and promotes regional economic integration to spur business development, entrepreneurship, and increased employment opportunities.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Rwanda is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. The U.S. and Rwanda have a trade and investment framework agreement (signed in 2006) and a bilateral investment treaty (signed in 2011). The U.S. also has signed trade and investment framework agreements with the East African Community and with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. Rwanda is a member of both regional organizations. U.S. business interests in Rwanda are expanding, with private U.S. investment in tea, coffee, energy, mining, water treatment, banking, franchising, services, and manufacturing. U.S. exports to Rwanda include aircraft, pharmaceutical and scientific products, machinery, optical and medical instruments, construction equipment, and agricultural products. U.S. imports from Rwanda include coffee and other agricultural products, tantalum and tungsten ores, basketwork, handbags, and apparel.