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US cuts off Ethiopia, Mali, Guinea from Africa duty-free trade programme

“The United States today terminated Ethiopia,
Mali and Guinea from the AGOA trade preference program due to actions taken by
each of their governments in violation of the AGOA Statute,” the US Trade
Representative’s office said in a statement.

Biden said in November that Ethiopia would be cut off
from the duty-free trading regime provided under the US African Growth and
Opportunity Act (AGOA) due to alleged human rights violations in the Tigray
region, while Mali and Guinea were targeted due to recent coups.

The suspension of benefits threatens Ethiopia’s
textile industry, which supplies global fashion brands, and the country’s
nascent hopes of becoming a light manufacturing hub. It also piles more
pressure on an economy reeling from the conflict, the coronavirus pandemic, and
high inflation.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is deeply
concerned by the unconstitutional change in governments in both Guinea and
Mali, and by the gross violations of internationally recognised human rights
being perpetrated by the Government of Ethiopia and other parties amid the
widening conflict in northern Ethiopia,” the USTR statement said.

The AGOA trade legislation provides sub-Saharan
African nations with duty-free access to the United States if they meet certain
eligibility requirements, such as eliminating barriers to US trade and
investment and making progress toward political pluralism.

“Each country has clear benchmarks for a pathway
toward reinstatement and the Administration will work with their governments to
achieve that objective,” it added.

The Washington embassies of the three African
countries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Ethiopia’s Trade Ministry said it November it was
“extremely disappointed” by Washington’s announcement, saying the
move would reverse economic gains and unfairly impact and harm women and
children.

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