By David Himbara
The Rwanda-U.S. two way trade is relatively small, totaling US$101 million. Rwanda is U.S’s 165th largest goods trading partner. U.S. exports to Rwanda totaled US$75 million in 2016. Rwandan exports to U.S. totalled US$26 million. The U.S. goods trade surplus with Rwanda was $49 million in 2016.
Because of such trade imbalances, the United States enacted the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) as Public Law 106 of the 200th Congress. AGOA has since been renewed to 2025. AGOA makes it easier for Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries by removing US import duties on products covered by the AGOA legislation. In other words, exporters in SSA benefiting from AGOA receive a competitive advantage over exporters in other countries. Supporters of AGOA have always argued correctly that SSA countries do not need foreign aid by rather market access to stimulate trade and investment.
Enter Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame who unilaterally decided to block American exports of used apparel. In so doing, Kagame is abusing the rules he agreed to when he signed AGOA including the following requirements:
(A) a market-based economy that protects private property rights, incorporates an open rules-based trading system, and minimises government interference in the economy through measures such as price controls, subsidies, and government ownership of economic assets;
Kagame and his insane fight with the Trump Administration over AGOA recall the story of an elephant and a mosquito. Let me reproduce the story here borrowed from Dailytenminutes.com.
Dear Kagame, in the above story, you are the mosquito. Please reflect on the above story and your situation. You might learn a thing or two. Otherwise, you will keep confusing arrogance with confidence. Arrogance is being full of yourself, which leads you to mistakenly overstate your abilities and influence. President Kagame, know your place, be humble, pick up that phone, call the American embassy, and inform them that Rwanda is open to all the U.S. exports as per AGOA.