US to Remove Four African Countries From Trade Program
In a letter sent to the speaker of the US House of Representatives on Monday, Pres. Joe Biden announced his intention to remove the Central African Republic (CAR), Gabon, Niger and Uganda from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a move that will be effective on Jan. 1, 2024....
In a letter sent to the speaker of the US House of Representatives on Monday, Pres. Joe Biden announced his intention to remove the Central African Republic (CAR), Gabon, Niger and Uganda from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a move that will be effective on Jan. 1, 2024.1
He argued that these sub-Saharan countries had failed to address concerns over non-compliance with the trade program qualifying criteria, adding that he would continue to evaluate whether they align with the requirements for eligibility.2
This decision comes as a response to what Biden has deemed gross violations of internationally recognized human rights by the CAR and Uganda, as well as Niger and Gabon's inability to safeguard political pluralism and the rule of law.3
Uganda has approved punitive laws that include the death penalty for people engaging in certain same-sex activities, while the governments of Gabon and Niger were ousted in military takeovers this year. According to analysts, the CAR likely lost its status due to ties with the Wagner Group.4
The Act, which allows duty-free exports from eligible sub-Saharan African states on over 1.8K products to the US, was launched in 2000. Last year, Gabon and Uganda exported goods worth $220M and $174M, respectively, to the US while Niger registered $73M, and the CAR recorded less than $900K.5
The Act's three-day annual forum will kick off on Thursday in Johannesburg, South Africa, with African trade ministers gathering to press for a quick extension of the program past 2025.6
Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Politics Today. This trade program has been a significant driver for economic growth for many sub-Saharan countries, so this decision — although not yet set in stone — will be damaging to the expelled states. With the Act's beneficiaries desperate for the program to be extended for at least another 10 years post-2025, Biden has reaffirmed that supportive political will remains a necessity in any country's dealings with the US.
Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Asia Times. The US continues a social reconstruction of the African Growth and Opportunity Act directed towards the wider purpose of retaining international influence in response to the perceived rising threats of China and Russia. When originally formed, the Act was intended to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa — today, it is a proxy for hegemony that dismisses the legitimate sovereignty of African nations to make their own domestic decisions.