President Joe Biden recently made his intention to exclude Ethiopia from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade programme, laying the groundwork for punitive measures against the East African nation over its defeat to end a nearly year-long war in the Tigray region, which has resulted in “blatant violations” of civil rights. The penalty takes effect on January 1.
According to Biden’s letter to Congress, Ethiopia has not met the eligibility requirements to continue to be a recipient.
Over the last decade, the country has spent billions of dollars building a dozen industrial parks and related infrastructure. According to US Commerce Department data, Ethiopia exported about $237 million in duty-free goods to the US under AGOA in 2020, with textiles and apparel accounting for more than nine-tenths of that total.
According to Biden, Ethiopia is committing “infringements of internationally recognised human rights.” In the letter, he also mentioned Guinea and Mali, both of which have experienced coups this year, as being out of adherence.
In a statement, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said her office would “provide each country with clear benchmarks for a path that leads toward resumption, and our administration will collaborate with them to accomplish that goal.”
Ethiopian officials had petitioned against the relocation. “We are incredibly disappointed by the threat of AGOA withdrawal that the US government is currently considering,” the inflation and trade ministry said in a statement, alerting that it would “overturn substantial economic improvements in our country and undeservedly affect and harm women and children.” Ethiopia will continue to make every effort to right any perceived or unplanned wrongs.”