U.S. Relations With Democratic Republic of the Congo

Bureau of African Affairs
Fact Sheet
November 15, 2017


More information about the Democratic Republic of the Congo is available on the Democratic Republic of the Congo Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.

U.S.-DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO RELATIONS

The United States established diplomatic relations with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1960, following its independence from Belgium. Post-independence, the country saw a mix of unrest and rebellion, secession, dictatorships, armed conflict, and neighboring countries intervening in the DRC's territory. The country’s last protracted conflict, known as Africa’s World War (1998-2003), involved nine African countries and resulted in a death toll of an estimated 5 million people in the DRC. In January 2001, Laurent Kabila, who led the rebel movement that overthrew the 32-year regime of Mobuto Sese Seko in 1997, was assassinated and his son, Joseph Kabila, was named head of state. The DRC held multiparty elections in 2006 and 2011. Presidential elections, which should have been held in 2016, have been announced by the DRC’s electoral commission for December 2018. These elections would result in the DRC’s first democratic transfer of power in the country’s history as President Kabila is prohibited from running as a candidate under the DRC’s constitution.

Regional stability and security is dependent on durable peace in the DRC, due to the country's size, resources and its location bordering nine nations. The DRC faces challenges that include inadequate infrastructure and human resources, the government’s inability to project its authority throughout the country, rampant corruption, a limited capacity to raise and manage revenues, and the destabilizing presence of armed groups, particularly in eastern DRC. The United Nations has maintained a peacekeeping presence in the DRC for 22 of the 57 years since the country's independence in 1960. The mandate for the UN’s current peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, was renewed on March 31, 2017 with a troop ceiling of 16,215.

U.S. relations with the DRC are deep and longstanding. U.S. foreign policy in the DRC is focused on helping the country become a nation that is stable and democratic, at peace with its neighbors, extends state authority across its territory, and provides for the basic needs of its citizens. The U.S. is also working with the GDRC to ensure national elections consistent with the constitution. The State Department’s Africa Bureau leads U.S. engagement aimed at supporting a democratic transition of power and addressing the root causes of conflict and instability in the region. The United States is the largest bilateral donor and single largest financial contributor to MONUSCO.

U.S. Assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

U.S. foreign assistance to the DRC supports the country’s long-term transition to more effective and empowering development. To achieve this goal, USAID invests substantially in three objectives: that selected national-level institutions more effectively implement their mandates; that lives are improved through coordinated development approaches in select regions; and that the foundation for durable peace is strengthened in eastern DRC.

Bilateral Economic Relations

U.S. exports to the DRC include pharmaceutical products, poultry, machinery, and wheat. The top U.S. import from the DRC is copper, accounting for close to 70% of all U.S. imports. Oil is the DRC’s second largest export by value to the United States. The two countries have signed a bilateral investment treaty. The United States also has signed a trade and investment framework agreement with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, of which the DRC is a member. The DRC promotes entrepreneurship with women business owners by participating in exchange programs through the United States International Visitor Leadership Program.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo's Membership in International Organizations

The DRC and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is Jennifer Haskell; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo maintains an embassy in the United States at 1100 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036: tel. 202-234-7690.

More information about the Democratic Republic of the Congo is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Democratic Republic of the Congo Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Democratic Republic of the Congo Page
U.S. Embassy
USAID Democratic Republic of the Congo Page
History of U.S. Relations With the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Country Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics (see "Congo (Kinshasa)")
Export.gov International Offices Page (see "Congo - Kinshasa")
Office of Foreign Assets Control Sanctions Page
Library of Congress Country Studies (see "Zaire (Former)")
Travel Information