President Joe Biden himself laid out this decision in an Oct. 30 letter addressed to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Vice President Kamala Harris, in her capacity as the president of the U.S. Senate. He wrote that Uganda, Niger, Gabon and the Central African Republic (CAR) should be excluded from the AGOA trade program starting on Jan. 1, 2024.
According to the chief executive, the CAR's government "has 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." For Niger and Gabon, Biden said both nations have failed to meet the "political pluralism and rule of law" criteria stipulated in the AGOA agreement. He also cited coups in both nations that have resulted in military leadership.
Meanwhile, Biden also pointed to Uganda's supposed failure to acknowledge and uphold "human rights." Earlier this year, Kampala passed a law that strictly limits and even criminalizes homosexuality. The CAR also has sanctions in place that forbid same-sex acts in public. (Related: Ugandan President Museveni signs anti-LGBT legislation that stipulates DEATH PENALTY for "aggravated homosexuality.")
“Despite intensive engagement between the U.S. and the [four African nations], these countries have failed to address U.S. concerns about their non-compliance with the AGOA eligibility criteria," Biden noted. However, the administration will continue to assess their eligibility to meet the requirements for potential reinstatement into the program.
A Nov. 1 article by Reuters expounded on the AGOA trade program, which was established in 2000 under the leadership of former U.S. President Bill Clinton. According to the piece, it was established to strengthen economic ties with sub-Saharan African nations and foster their economic development.
AGOA, which was initially passed with a bipartisan consensus, has been renewed twice, enabling approximately 35 African countries to benefit from its provisions. The eligibility of African countries for AGOA is subject to a periodic review based on criteria including economic policies and the protection of human rights. So, participating nations can lose and regain eligibility, and this process is essential to maintaining the standards of the program.
The trade program has provided eligible African countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for nearly 2,000 agricultural and manufactured products. The United States, while supporting African economic growth, has benefited from AGOA as well.
AGOA serves as a strategic tool to advance U.S. interests on the African continent, including provisions on denying eligibility to countries that undermine U.S. national security or foreign policy interests. The U.S. lawmakers also consider AGOA a soft power toolkit to counter the growing influence of China in the region. In other words, the U.S. seeks to maintain its presence in the region by fostering economic development and strengthening trade relations with African nations.
The requirements for beneficiary status under AGOA include progress in maintaining a market-based economy, upholding the rule of law, political pluralism, the right to due process, and enacting policies to reduce poverty, combat corruption and protect human rights. However, the Biden administration still has the final say on whether countries are eligible for the benefits under AGOA.
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Watch Gabor "Gabe" Zolna discussing Uganda's plans to impose the death penalty on homosexuals, which contributed to the Biden administration's decision to exclude it from the AGOA trade program.
This video is from the zolnareport.com channel on Brighteon.com.