Ahead of a meeting of African Growth and Opportunity Act participants later this week, the U.S. announced Oct. 31 that it will remove four countries from the trade preference program and reinstate another.
Mauritania was terminated from AGOA several years ago due to worker rights concerns. However, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative states that Mauritania will be reinstated to the program effective Jan. 1, 2024, based on progress it has made in this area. House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal, D-Mass., criticized this change, calling it “premature” and saying it “flies in the face of a worker-centric trade agenda” given continued concerns about hereditary slavery in Mauritania. USTR Katherine Tai responded that “we know that there is more hard work to be done” and pointed out that Mauritania has expressed a “willingness to work diligently with the United States to continue to make substantial and measurable progress on worker rights and eliminating forced labor across the country.”
Also effective Jan. 1, 2024, the U.S. will terminate AGOA benefits for Gabon, Niger, the Central African Republic, and Uganda. USTR cited unconstitutional changes of government in Gabon and Niger and “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights being perpetrated by [the] governments” of the Central African Republic and Uganda. Tai said she will “provide each of these countries with clear benchmarks for a pathway toward reinstatement” and that the U.S. will work with them to achieve that objective.
For more information on AGOA (which is currently scheduled to expire Sept. 30, 2025), including country eligibility and how to utilize available tariff preferences, please contact Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956 or via email.
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