Effective this year, the private sector will be able to take advantage of market opportunities in the United States when the U.S.-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), which was ratified last month, enters into force later this month.
The treaty, which is meant to increase and diversify trade through the exploitation of existing partnerships, is the first of its kind that the United States has concluded with any African country in almost a decade. It aims to stimulate Rwanda’s economic growth, private sector investment and increase exports.
According to Kaliza Karuretwa, the Director of Trade and Investment in the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM), the ministry is working towards identifying trade opportunities in the US, saying: “We have so far identified sectors that have high market and export potential, such as coffee, tea, pyrethrum, essential oils and handcrafts”.
The New Times has learnt, in a recent interview with the Minister of Trade and Industry, François Kanimba, that US investors accompanied by US government officials are expected to visit the country during the first quarter of this year.
“The ratification of the Bilateral Investment Treaty comes at a time of growing international interest in East African region and the continent at large. As East Africa integrates and business grows, Rwanda becomes a strategic gateway to the 130 million EAC consumers,” Kanimba said.
Trade between the two countries amounted to US$ 51 million in 2010 with Rwandan exports to the US totalling US$21.5million. Rwandan imports from the US estimated at US$ 29.5 million.
Coffee made up more than 85 percent of exports, the others being tungsten, pyrethrum and handcrafts.