U.S. President Joe Biden has stated his intention to halt the participation of Gabon, Niger, Uganda, and the Central African Republic in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade program.
The announcement on Monday comes as a response to what President Biden describes as “gross violations” of internationally recognized human rights by the Central African Republic and Uganda. Additionally, he cited Niger and Gabon’s inability to establish or make consistent progress in safeguarding political pluralism and the rule of law.
In a letter addressed to the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, President Biden stated, “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.” This decision is set to take effect on January 1, 2024, when the designation of these nations as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries under AGOA will be terminated.
President Biden also expressed his commitment to continuously evaluate whether these nations meet the program’s eligibility requirements. AGOA, initiated in the year 2000, offers qualifying countries the privilege of duty-free access to the U.S. market for their exports. Although the program is slated to expire in September 2025, discussions are already underway regarding whether to extend it and the duration of any potential extension.
African governments and industry groups are advocating for an early 10-year extension of AGOA without alterations, aiming to provide assurance to businesses and potential investors concerned about the future of AGOA.