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"US Removes Uganda from AGOA Trade Deal"
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EN FRANCAIS!

US President Joe Biden has announced intentions to remove Uganda, Gabon, Niger, and the Central African Republic (CAR) from a special US-Africa trade program.

The decision comes as a result of either “gross violations” of human rights or a lack of progress toward democratic governance in these countries, according to the president.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), introduced in 2000, provides duty-free access to the US market for more than 1,800 products from eligible sub-Saharan African nations.

President Biden stated that Niger and Gabon, both currently under military rule following coups this year, are ineligible for AGOA due to their failure to establish or make consistent progress toward political pluralism and the rule of law.

Additionally, the CAR and Uganda are being removed from the program due to “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” by their respective governments.

Earlier in May, the US government had indicated the possibility of removing Uganda from AGOA and imposing sanctions after the country passed a controversial anti-homosexuality law, which has faced global criticism for its severe penalties.

President Biden conveyed this decision in a letter addressed to the speaker of the US House of Representatives, emphasizing the failure of these countries to address US concerns regarding their compliance with AGOA eligibility criteria.

The affected countries have yet to respond to the announcement, which coincides with South Africa’s hosting of the 20th AGOA forum later this week.

The expulsion from AGOA, effective from the beginning of next year, is likely to impact the economies of these countries, as the program has been credited with promoting exports, economic growth, and job creation among participating nations.

CAR is expected to be the least affected, with US government data showing only $881,000 in US exports to the country in 2022, compared to $23 million worth of imports from the US, resulting in a significant trade deficit.

Uganda exported goods worth $174 million to the US last year, while Gabon and Niger recorded US exports of $220 million and $73 million, respectively, during the same period.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni recently mentioned that several American companies had halted the import of textiles from Uganda due to the anti-homosexuality law, which he claimed was a result of interference by homosexuals in the US.

In response to US government actions, including the suspension of most foreign aid to Gabon and Niger, these countries are facing increasing pressure to establish democratic governance.

Piers Potter

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