U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Monday his intention to terminate the participation of Gabon, Niger, Uganda, and the Central African Republic in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade program. The decision stems from what President Biden termed “gross violations” of internationally recognized human rights by the Central African Republic and Uganda. Additionally, he pointed out Niger and Gabon’s failure to establish or make sustained 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 that despite ongoing discussions between the United States and the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda, these countries have not adequately addressed U.S. concerns regarding their non-compliance with AGOA’s eligibility criteria.
Effective from January 1, 2024, President Biden plans to revoke the beneficiary status of these nations as sub-Saharan African countries under AGOA. The President also expressed his intention to continue evaluating whether these countries meet the eligibility criteria of the program.
AGOA, initiated in 2000, provides duty-free access to the U.S. market for exports from eligible countries. While AGOA is set to expire in September 2025, conversations are already underway to determine whether and for how long the program should be extended. African governments and industry associations advocate for an early 10-year extension without modifications to provide reassurance to businesses and potential investors concerned about the program’s future.