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Biden disqualifies Uganda, 3 other countries from AGOA

US President Joe Biden has terminated the designation of Uganda and three other African countries from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), starting January next year.

Presidents Joe Biden and Yoweri Museveni

AGOA is a 23-year-old piece of legislation through which qualifying African countries are able to access the US market for exports. The law enables US importers to clear goods from these countries duty-free.

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It does that by allocating a special program indicator ('D') to approximately 6,800 tariff lines in the US tariff schedule.

President Biden first hinted at the possibility of removing Uganda from the AGOA beneficiaries in May this year, shortly after the passing and signing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (2023).

Yesterday, Monday, October 30, Biden informed the US Congress of his decision to take Uganda, along with Gabon, Niger and Central African Republic off of AGOA countries.

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I intend to terminate the designation of these countries as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries under the AGOA, effective January 1, 2024. I will continue to assess whether the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda meet the AGOA eligibility requirements” Biden communicated.

All four countries, he said did “not meet the eligibility requirements of section 104 of the AGOA.”

Justifying the action against Uganda, President Biden said the East African country had “engaged in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.

Regarding the Central African Republic, he said it had engaged in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and has not established, or is not making continual progress toward establishing, the protection of internationally recognized worker rights, the rule of law, and political pluralism.

As for Niger and the Government of Gabon, Biden said, these had not established or made progress toward establishing, the protection of political pluralism and the rule of law.

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Back in May, President Biden had also threatened to take Uganda off of the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), which has played a key role in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

However, the new ambassador to Uganda William Popp gave assurance yesterday that his government will continue to fund this program.

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