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 Sept. 16, and information presented at a Sept. 10 public hearing will be considered in developing recommendations on AGOA country eligibility for 2016. 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 2015 the following have been designated as beneficiary SSA countries: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.
The following have not been designated as beneficiary SSA countries in 2015 and are up for review: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland 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 the textile and apparel benefits if certain statutory requirements intended to prevent unlawful transshipment are met, 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 a 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 he determines that it 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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