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AGOA Tariff Preference Eligibility Subject of Annual Review

Friday, July 06, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is conducting its annual review of the eligibility of sub-Saharan African countries to receive benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Public comments, which are due no later than Aug. 23, and information presented at an Aug. 16 public hearing will be considered in developing recommendations on AGOA country eligibility for 2019. In addition, comments related to the AGOA child labor criteria may be considered by the Department of Labor as it prepares its required report on that issue.

For 2018 the following have been designated as beneficiary SSA countries: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland (now referred to as Eswatini), Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.

The following have not been designated as beneficiary SSA countries in 2018 and are up for review: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (graduated from GSP), Eritrea, Seychelles (graduated from GSP), Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

The president may designate a country as eligible for AGOA duty-free treatment for certain additional products not included in the Generalized System of Preferences, as well as preferential treatment for certain textile and apparel articles, if that country meets the eligibility criteria set forth in section 104 of the AGOA and section 502 of the 1974 Trade Act. These requirements include that the country has established or is making substantial progress toward establishing, among other things, a market-based economy, the rule of law, political pluralism, the right to due process, the elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment, economic policies to reduce poverty, a system to combat corruption and bribery, and the protection of internationally recognized worker rights. In addition, the country may not engage in activities that undermine U.S. national security or foreign policy interests or engage in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.

If the president determines that an AGOA beneficiary is not making continual progress in meeting the eligibility requirements, the designation of that country as a beneficiary must be terminated. However, the president may also withdraw, suspend, or limit the application of duty-free treatment with respect to specific articles from a country if doing so would be more effective in promoting compliance with AGOA eligibility requirements than terminating the designation of the country as a beneficiary.

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