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Cablegate: Rwanda Update for 2007 President's Report On Agoa

VZCZCXYZ0015
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLGB #0250/01 0681128
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091128Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KIGALI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3880
INFO RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1553
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0802

UNCLAS KIGALI 000250

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/C
DEPARTMENT FOR AF/EPS: JPOTASH
DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS TO USTR: WJACKSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD RW
SUBJECT: RWANDA UPDATE FOR 2007 PRESIDENT'S REPORT ON AGOA

REF: STATE 22438

1. SUMMARY. In accordance with reftel, the following
provides an update for the 2007 President's Report on AGOA
for Rwanda. END SUMMARY.

2. Market Economy: The government has established important
oversight for managing the economic health of the country,
including tax collection, banking, trade agreements,
anti-corruption, and fiscal policy. Almost 90% of the
population remains in subsistence agriculture, but the
government is also emphasizing the importance of promoting
private investment, particularly foreign, as an engine of
development. The government has implemented several
initiatives to increase investment and exports. The Rwandan
Investment and Export Promotion Agency has developed
information materials, organized trade fairs domestically and
abroad, and established assistance offices in Rwanda to
encourage and assist investors. Agri-business and mining
drive the exports, and tourism shows promise for the future,
but Rwanda's economy remains challenged by its geography,
small market, and high energy costs.

Trade Liberalization: There are no significant trade barriers
that affect the importation of goods and services to Rwanda,
and the government is continuing toward further
liberalization. The government continues to be extremely
open to and encouraging of US investment. Few parastatals
remain to be privatized, and the government appears committed
doing so in a transparent manner. Many commercial laws,
including the establishment of a commercial court system, are
still in the development stages, which render a few existing
disputes unresolved.

3. Political Pluralism: In 2003, President Kagame was
elected to a seven-year term, with 95 percent of the vote,
and members of Parliament were also elected. In February
2006, local officials were elected to five-year terms in
elections at the cell, sector, and district levels, with the
Kigali City election held on March 4. The next legislative
elections will be held in 2008, Presidential elections in
2010, and local elections in 2011. The 2003 presidential and
legislative elections were peaceful but marred by
irregularities. The most recent elections were generally
considered free and fair, with no indication of coercion,
harassment, or intimidation of voters.

4. Rule of Law: The government continues to make efforts to
strengthen the independence and capacity of the judiciary.
In 2004, the regular courts were inoperative for ten months
due to substantial reforms, including the
dismissal/replacement of many judges and the training of
court personnel. The government has plans to increase the
presence of lawyers throughout the country, to improve access
to legal services, and to establish circuit courts throughout
the country, to reduce the backlog of pending cases. A new
legal training institute was due to begin operation in March
2006.

5. Anti-Corruption: The extent of corruption in Rwanda is
limited due, in part, to the government's active efforts to
combat it. In 2003, it established the Ombudsman's Office
and the Auditor General's Office to investigate corruption
within government, focus on corruption prevention, and review
financial disclosure reports of senior government officials
to ensure transparency and accountability. The government
has provided training to the National Police to improve
professionalism and to promote respect for rule of law.

6. Poverty Reduction: The government has made efforts, with
measurable results, to reduce poverty and to improve access
to health care and education, despite its severely limited
resources. Under its national policy of universal primary
education, the government provides free primary education to
all children. A joint government-donor task force is
focusing on improvement of girls' education. The government
is attempting to improve access to health care through
greater decentralization to ensure adequate health services
at the local level. Rwanda's Poverty Reduction Growth
Facility programs, which are tied to the successful
cancellation of multi-lateral debt, are considered on track
by the IMF.

7. Labor: Rwanda has ratified all eight of the core ILO
Conventions, including ILO Convention 138 on minimum age and
ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labor.
Rwandan law provides all salaried workers, including some
civil servants, with the right to form and join labor unions
without prior authorization, and workers exercised this right
in practice. While all unions must register for official
recognition, there were no reports of the government denying
recognition. The law prohibits unions from having political
affiliations and from publicly expressing political opinions.
It also provides for collective bargaining, but this right
was severely limited in practice. In November 2005, the
government created a National Labor Council with equal
representation from government, employers, and labor unions.

8. Child Labor: Except for subsistence agricultural workers,
the law prohibits children under the age of 16 from working
outside of the household without their parents' or guardians'
permission, though child labor remains common in the
agricultural sector. Children are trafficked internally for
commercial sexual exploitation, and domestic work. The
government recently released its Youth Employment Policy,
which outlines its plans to conduct a child labor study,
strategies for withdrawal of children involved in child
labor, and mechanisms for prevention. The government
supports two U.S. DOL-funded regional projects targeting
child soldiers and children affected by HIV/AIDS and several
UNICEF-funded projects to combat child prostitution and child
labor.
ARIETTI

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