Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Shweta Sharma

US to remove four African countries from Agoa trade deal for ‘gross violation of human rights’


The US will terminate Uganda, Gabon, Niger, and the Central African Republic from a special US-Africa trade programme as they have either not taken measures to curb human rights violations or not made democratic progress.

Joe Biden on Monday said the countries did not meet eligibility criteria for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) that was established in 2000. The act allows sub-Saharan African nations duty free access to more than 1,800 US products.

Mr Biden said the countries lost their status either by either engaging in gross violation of human rights, political pluralism or failure to make progress towards democratic rule.

“Despite intensive engagement between the United States and the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda, these countries have failed to address United States concerns about their non-compliance with the Agoa eligibility criteria,” he said.

The expulsion of the countries from Agoa will come into effect next year.

The US suspended foreign aid to both Gabon and Niger this year after the governments of both countries faced coups and have remained under military rule.

Mr Biden said the countries “have not established, or are not making continual progress toward establishing, the protection of political pluralism and the rule of law”.

He said the governments of Uganda and the Central African Republic have both engaged in “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights”.

The US government raised concerns over Uganda passing an anti-homosexuality law in the country under which people can face a death penalty if found engaged in same-sex acts.

The Biden administration at that time said they were mulling removing Uganda from Agoa.

The Central African Republic’s government also fell short of protecting “internationally recognized worker rights”, the president said in his statement.

Some analysts have suggested the termination of the Central African Republic from Agoa could be because of its alleged ties to Russia’s Wagner group – designated as a transnational criminal organisation by the US Treasury.

Mr Biden, however, did not mention this as a reason in his statement.

The Wagner group is known to provide security to Central African Republic’s president and undertakes combat missions for its government.

The country, which exported less than $1m goods to the US in 2021, is expected to be the least impacted by Mr Biden’s decision.

The African countries Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea had also earlier last year lost their Agoa status after military coups.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.