The United States, led by President Joe Biden, has unveiled its intention to revoke the participation of Uganda, Gabon, Niger, and the Central African Republic (CAR) in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) trade program.
The decision stems from these countries’ respective transgressions, including “gross violations” of human rights and an absence of progress toward democratic governance. Agoa, established in 2000, grants eligible sub-Saharan African nations duty-free access to the US market for over 1,800 products.
Biden specified that Niger and Gabon, both governed by military regimes following coups this year, are ineligible for Agoa due to their inability to establish or make consistent progress toward safeguarding political pluralism and the rule of law. The expulsion of CAR and Uganda from the program results from their governments’ “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” Uganda had been under consideration for removal from Agoa after passing a controversial anti-homosexuality law in May, which provoked global condemnation.
These countries’ removal from Agoa is scheduled to take effect from the beginning of the next year, potentially impacting their economies as Agoa has played a crucial role in promoting exports, economic growth, and job creation in participating nations. While CAR’s exports to the US in 2022 amounted to just $881,000, Uganda, Gabon, and Niger recorded exports of $174 million, $220 million, and $73 million, respectively, in the same year.
Notably, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda reported that several American firms had ceased importing textiles from Uganda due to the anti-homosexuality law. The exclusion of Niger and Gabon from Agoa marks the latest action by the US government against these junta-led nations. Last week, the US State Department suspended most foreign aid to Gabon, resuming assistance only when Gabon’s transitional government establishes democratic governance. In August, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a similar move against Niger, pausing certain foreign aid programs benefiting the government of Niger. Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea had previously been expelled from Agoa following military coups in those countries.