In a significant development, the United States has announced its intention to expel several African countries from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) due to serious human rights violations. The affected nations include Uganda, Gabon, and the Central African Republic (CAR).
AGOA, a key U.S.-Africa trade program, has provided duty-free access to the United States for over 1,800 products from eligible sub-Saharan African countries since its inception in 2000, fostering economic growth and trade relations.
President Joe Biden expressed deep concerns about these countries’ failure to meet AGOA’s eligibility criteria, which encompass the protection of internationally recognized worker rights, the rule of law, and political pluralism. Despite ongoing engagement, these nations have been unable to address the issues raised by the United States, leading to the decision to terminate their AGOA beneficiary status, effective from January 1, 2024.
Uganda had been under scrutiny for its controversial anti-homosexuality law, which included a death penalty for those convicted of certain same-sex acts. Gabon and the Central African Republic faced criticism over military coups in their respective countries.
The U.S. State Department had already suspended most foreign aid to Gabon and Niger Republic, vowing to resume assistance only upon the establishment of democratic rule. This decision underscores the U.S. commitment to upholding human rights and democratic values in its trade relationships.
This action follows previous expulsions of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea from AGOA following military coups in those countries. It reaffirms the United States’ dedication to promoting human rights and democracy in its trade partnerships with African nations.
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