Cablegate: Rwanda Update for 2008 President?S Report On


DE RUEHLGB #0178/01 0731120
R 131120Z MAR 08




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Rwanda Update for 2008 President?s Report on

REF: 08STATE00020082

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

Economic Situation: The government exercises, chiefly
through the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank,
manages the economic health of the country, including tax
collection, banking, trade agreements, anti-corruption,
and fiscal policy. Almost eighty five percent of the
population remains in subsistence agriculture. The
government emphasizes the importance of promoting private
investment, particularly foreign, as an engine of
development. The government has implemented several
initiatives to increase investment and improve the
climate for doing business in Rwanda, with particularly
emphasis on faster processing of imports. The Rwandan
Investment and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA) has
developed information materials, organized trade fairs
domestically and abroad, and established assistance
offices in Rwanda to encourage and assist investors.
Minerals became the number one export in 2007 while the
construction and tourism sectors have showed tremendous
growth. Rwanda faces numerous challenges, including
physical isolation, a small market, high energy costs,
developing infrastructure and lingering regional
instability, most recently shown in Kenyan?s post-
election turmoil.

Trade Liberalization: On February 19, 2008 President Bush
and President Kagame signed a Bilateral Investment
Treaty, which will provide legal protections for U.S. and
Rwandan investors, underscoring the two countries' shared
commitment to open investment and trade policies. In
2007, Rwanda joined the East African Community, a
regional intergovernmental organization which aims at
greater economic cooperation. There continues to be no
significant trade barriers that affect the importation of
goods and services to Rwanda, and market liberalization
remains a key policy goal. Few parastatals remain to be
privatized, and the government appears committed doing so
in a transparent manner. Many draft commercial laws,
including the establishment of a commercial court system,
are close to being enacted.

Political Pluralism: In 2003, President Kagame was
elected to a seven-year term, with 95 percent of the
vote. Members of Parliament were also elected to five
year terms. In February 2006, local officials were
elected to five-year terms in elections at the cell,
sector and district levels. 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
serious irregularities. The nonpartisan 2006 local
elections were generally considered free and fair, with
no indication of coercion, harassment, or intimidation of
voters. On June 1, 2007, a new political parties law
abolished restrictions on political parties? ability
organize and open offices at all administrative levels.
Independent parties report they are now free to circulate
and attract supporters throughout the countryside.

Rule of Law: The government continues to make efforts to
strengthen the independence and capacity of the
judiciary. In most cases, the judiciary operated without
government interference. Members of the national bar
association noted increased judicial independence during
the year, citing the increased willingness of judges to
rule against the government and a higher standard of
judicial training and education. The judiciary has
Qjudicial training and education. The judiciary has
undertaken extensive efforts to reduce the backlog of
pending cases. A new legal training institute began
operations in 2007.

Anti-Corruption: Corruption in the country was a problem
although the government continued its 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. In 2007, the government
prosecuted several senior officials on corruption


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 program is
considered on track by the IMF. At the Development
Partners' meeting in the fall of 2007, Rwanda announced
that it was making good progress at meeting many of the
Millennium Development Goals, although it was not likely
achieve its 2015 targets regarding poverty reduction.

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. A complicated negotiation
process means that strikes are effectively prohibited.
In November 2005, the government created a National Labor
Council with equal representation from government,
employers, and labor unions. A new labor law is in the
development stage, but progress as slow as the government
tries to balance worker rights and business interests.

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. As part of
its youth employment policy, the government has
undertaken a child labor study and has outlined
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. In January 2008, the
government introduced a national policy for the
elimination of child labor.


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