US withdraws Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea from Africa duty-free trade program

Tadele Abate, 37, weaves a fabric at the Sammy Ethiopia garment, hand-woven textiles and basketry factory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. REUTERS / Tiksa Negeri

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WASHINGTON, Jan.1 (Reuters) – The United States on Saturday denied Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea access to a duty-free trade program, following President Joe Biden’s threat to do so due to alleged human rights violations and recent coups d’état.

“The United States today terminated Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea from the AGOA Trade Preferences Program due to actions taken by each of their governments in violation of the AGOA Statute “the office of the US trade representative said in a statement.

Biden said in November Ethiopia would be cut off from the duty-free trade regime under the U.S. Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) due to alleged human rights violations in the Tigray region, while the Mali and Guinea have been targeted due to recent coups. . Read more

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The suspension of benefits threatens Ethiopia’s textile industry, which supplies global fashion brands, and the country’s burgeoning hopes of becoming a hub for light manufacturing. It also increases the pressure on a shocked economy, the coronavirus pandemic and high inflation.

“The Biden-Harris administration is deeply concerned about the unconstitutional change of governments in Guinea and Mali, and the gross, internationally recognized human rights violations perpetrated by the Ethiopian government and other parties amid the growing conflict. in northern Ethiopia, ”the USTR statement said.

AGOA trade laws provide sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the United States if they meet certain eligibility requirements, such as removing barriers to U.S. trade and investment and progressing to political pluralism.

“Each country has clear benchmarks for a path to reintegration and the administration will work with their governments to achieve this goal,” he added.

The embassies in Washington of the three African countries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ethiopia’s Commerce Ministry said in November it was “extremely disappointed” by Washington’s announcement, saying the move would reverse economic gains and impact unfairly and harm women and children.

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Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Scott Malone; Editing by Scott Malone and Sandra Maler

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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