President Biden will officially terminate the designations of Ethiopia, Guinea and Mali as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries under the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) on Jan. 1 following last month’s recommendation by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).
Biden “determined that Ethiopia, Guinea and Mali do not meet the requirements” laid out in the trade act, the president declared in a proclamation.
When the recommendation was announced in early November, USTR Katherine Tai said the administration was “deeply concerned by the unconstitutional change in governments in both Guinea and Mali, and by the gross violations of internationally recognized human rights being perpetrated by the government of Ethiopia and other parties amid the widening conflict in northern Ethiopia.
“These countries are set to be removed from this program due to actions taken by their governments in violation of the AGOA statute,” Tai said. “The United States urges these governments to take necessary actions to meet the statutory criteria so we can resume our valued trading partnerships.”
At the time, Biden cited Guinea and Mali “for not having established or not making continual progress toward establishing the protection of the rule of law and of political pluralism.”
“Despite intensive engagement between the United States and the governments of Ethiopia, Guinea and Mali, these governments have failed to address United States concerns about their non-compliance with the AGOA eligibility criteria,” he said.
AGOA provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for over 1,800 products. To meet AGOA’s rigorous eligibility requirements, countries must establish or make continual progress toward establishing a market-based economy, the rule of law, political pluralism and the right to due process. Additionally, countries must eliminate barriers to U.S. trade and investment, enact policies to reduce poverty, combat corruption and protect human rights.
In 2015, Congress passed legislation modernizing and extending AGOA through 2025. For the year to date through October, apparel and textile imports from AGOA countries increased 18.9 percent to 325.35 million square meter equivalents (SME) compared to 273.65 million SME in the comparable period in 2020.