U.S. President Joe Biden made a significant announcement on Monday, revealing his intention to terminate the participation of four African nations, namely Gabon, Niger, Uganda, and the Central African Republic, in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade program.
This decision stems from concerns over “gross violations” of internationally recognized human rights in the Central African Republic and Uganda.
Additionally, President Biden cited the failure of Niger and Gabon to establish and sustain progress in terms of political pluralism and the rule of law.
In a letter addressed to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, President Biden explained that despite extensive efforts to engage with these countries, they have not adequately addressed the United States’ concerns regarding their non-compliance with AGOA’s eligibility criteria.
As a result, the designation of these countries as beneficiary sub-Saharan African nations under AGOA will be terminated, effective on January 1, 2024. President Biden also mentioned that he will continue to assess whether these nations meet AGOA’s eligibility requirements.
AGOA, initiated in the year 2000, grants duty-free access to the U.S. market for exports from qualifying countries.
Although AGOA is set to expire in September 2025, discussions are already underway regarding its potential extension and its duration.
African governments and industry groups are advocating for a ten-year extension without alterations to provide reassurance to businesses and potential investors who may be concerned about the program’s future.