Policy & History

The United States established diplomatic relations with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.) 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 controlling parts of the D.R.C.’s territory. The country was the battle ground for the African World War (1997-2003) during which time nine African countries fought over the D.R.C’s resources, causing the deaths of upwards of five million Congolese. Following the 2001 assassination of the country’s president, a United Nations peacekeeping mission deployed throughout the country, and a transitional government took office in 2003. The D.R.C. held multiparty elections in 2006 and 2011.

Regional stability and security is dependent on durable peace in the D.R.C., due to the country’s size, resources and its location bordering nine nations. The D.R.C. 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 D.R.C.

U.S. relations with the D.R.C. are strong. U.S. foreign policy in the D.R.C. 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 U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the D.R.C. leads U.S. engagement aimed at resolving the root cause of conflict and instability in the region. The United States is the largest donor to the United Nations stabilization mission in the D.R.C.

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

U.S. foreign assistance to the D.R.C. aims to support the security conditions and governance structures necessary for improvement of Congolese social and economic sectors and to permit extension of state authority across the country. U.S. assistance in the D.R.C. seeks to bolster peace and stability, particularly in eastern D.R.C.; protect civilians; strengthen governance institutions and the rule of law; increase food security, agricultural productivity, and access to credit; and support economic recovery, growth, and providing basic social services, including access to quality health care and education.

Bilateral Economic Relations

U.S. exports to the D.R.C. include pharmaceutical products, poultry, machinery, and wheat. The top U.S. import from the D.R.C. is oil, accounting for more than 90% of all U.S. imports. 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 D.R.C. is a member. The D.R.C. 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 D.R.C. 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.