US to Suspend Four African Countries From Its AGOA Trade Program
10:49 31.10.2023 (Updated: 11:09 31.10.2023)
© AP Photo / Andrew HarnikPresident Joe Biden and African leaders arrive for a family photo during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022.
© AP Photo / Andrew Harnik
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was enacted in 2000 during the presidency of Bill Clinton. Its aim is to promote trade, investment, and economic cooperation between the US and "eligible" sub-Saharan African countries, thereby facilitating economic growth and development in the region.
US President Joe Biden on Monday announced that his administration would exclude four African countries - Gabon, Niger, Uganda and the Central African Republic - from the African Growth and Opportunity Act trade program.
The US president stated that this step was being taken due to the "gross violations" of internationally recognized human rights allegedly committed by the Central African Republic and Uganda.
"I am taking this step because I have determined that the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda do not meet the eligibility requirements," Biden said in a letter to the speaker of the US House of Representatives.
He added, "Despite intensive engagement between the United States and the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda, these countries have failed to address United States concerns about their non-compliance with the AGOA eligibility criteria."
The US leader announced that as of January 1, 2024, the four African countries will no longer be designated as beneficiary countries under AGOA. However, he emphasized that their eligibility for the duty-free trade program will continue to be assessed.
Risks for Africa
Since its launch, several countries, including Ethiopia, Mali, Guinea and Cameroon have been suspended from the program.
Earlier this year, the World Bank said in its report on uncertainty in preferential trade agreements that non-reciprocal trade deals, such as AGOA, pose a significant risk to the economies of developing countries due to the possibility of abrupt suspension.
According to the report, the possibility of unilateral removal of preferences by the granting country creates uncertainty for the participating states and their firms in particular, which results in reduced use of preferences, despite their existence. The report indicated that suspension from the agreement brought about a 39% drop in the suspended countries' exports to the US.
In June, South Africa was threatened with losing the benefits of AGOA after a group of members of the US House of Representatives petitioned the White House to revoke Pretoria's status under the trade policy because of its neutrality in the Ukraine conflict.