US President Joe Biden has announced plans to expel Uganda, Gabon, Niger, and the Central African Republic (CAR) from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a special US-Africa trade programme.
The decision is based on concerns related to human rights violations and a lack of progress toward democratic governance.
AGOA, established in 2000, provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access to the US for over 1,800 products.
President Biden cited specific reasons for the expulsion of these nations from the programme.
- Niger and Gabon, currently under military rule following coups, were deemed ineligible due to their failure to establish or make continual progress toward political pluralism and the rule of law.
- The Central African Republic and Uganda faced expulsion due to “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” by their governments.
The removal of Uganda from AGOA was previously considered by the US government in May after the country passed a controversial anti-homosexuality law that imposed the death penalty for certain same-sex acts.
Despite engagement between the United States and the four countries, President Biden stated that they failed to address US concerns regarding their AGOA eligibility.
The expulsion is set to take effect at the beginning of next year and is expected to impact their economies, as AGOA has played a role in promoting exports, economic growth, and job creation.
In 2022, Uganda exported goods worth $174 million to the US, while Gabon and Niger recorded US exports of $220 million and $73 million, respectively.
On the other hand, the Central African Republic recorded $881,000 in US exports, importing $23 million worth of goods from the US, resulting in a significant trade deficit.
The removal of these countries from Agoa comes just before South Africa hosts the 20th AGOA forum this week. The affected nations have not yet issued a response to this decision.
Expulsions from AGOA have previously occurred, with Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea facing removal from the programme after military coups in their respective countries.