Mauritania set for AGOA return as Uganda, Gabon, Niger and CAR get the boot from US
News24 | 1st November 2023
By Lenin Ndebele
While Gabon, Niger, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Uganda have been kicked out of an American trade preference scheme for the continent, Mauritania will be making a return.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) provides significant benefits for some industries, notably car manufacturing and agriculture in South Africa. Access requires participating countries to meet certain criteria, including not working against American interests and maintaining certain human rights norms.
Mauritania was suspended from AGOA in 2019, after it was reinstated in 2009, because of hereditary slavery.
"Mauritania’s continued partnership with, support for and empowerment of labour, civil and human rights organisations will be key to its success," said Katherine Tai, the US trade representative at the ongoing 20th AGOA forum in Johannesburg.
Using the tools provided by the AGOA programme, we will closely monitor Mauritania’s progress in effectively and decisively protecting internationally recognised worker rights, particularly eradicating the scourge of hereditary slavery.
The eligibility of Gabon and Niger for the AGOA will cease due to the unconstitutional changes in their respective governments, the US said.
Due to the governments of CAR and Uganda’s flagrant abuses of internationally recognised human rights, benefits will also be discontinued for both countries.
"Absent urgent changes, these four countries are set to be removed from the programme due to actions taken by their governments that are inconsistent with the AGOA eligibility criteria," said Tai.
She added that the US would outline targets which these banned countries should attempt to meet if they wish to be reintegrated into the programme.
"The US urges these governments to take the necessary actions to meet those criteria so that we can resume our valued trading partnerships. I will provide each of these countries with clear benchmarks for a pathway towards reinstatement, and our administration will work with them to achieve that objective," she said.
AGOA adds about 1 800 products to the more than 4 600 which enter the US duty-free under the Generalised System of Preference.
According to data from the US State Department, the top five beneficiaries of AGOA are Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, Chad and the Republic of Congo.