Mali re-enters AGOA
The White House has reinstated Mali’s eligibility to receive trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), effective Jan. 1.
With the addition of Mali, 40 of the 49 potentially eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa are now eligible to receive benefits under AGOA in 2014.
“We believe that AGOA has enhanced economic progress, promoted stability, and improved the business environment for the benefit of both African and American firms,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in a statement. “We welcome the progress that Mali has made and look forward to further engagement with AGOA beneficiary countries.”
The Obama administration said Mali has made “continual progress” during the past year in meeting AGOA’s eligibility criteria, which include establishment of a market-based economy, rule of law, economic policies to reduce poverty, protection of internationally recognized worker rights, and efforts to combat corruption.
In January 2013, the White House determined Mali was ineligible for AGOA because of a government coup in March 2012. In July 2013, Mali inaugurated a democratically-elected president. “The new government of President Keita has focused on implementing market-based reforms, investing in infrastructure and human capital and has pledged to address public sector corruption, combat human rights abuses, and strengthen rule of law,” the administration said.
As part of this year’s review of AGOA countries, the U.S. government took special note of its continuing concerns regarding workers’ rights issues in Swaziland. In May 2014, the U.S. government will conduct an interim AGOA eligibility review of Swaziland to assess whether it has made progress on the protection of internationally recognized worker rights. The results of this review will be reflected in a recommendation to President Obama regarding Swaziland’s continued AGOA eligibility.
“The United States remains deeply concerned about the government of Swaziland’s lack of measurable progress on workers’ rights issues, particularly protection of freedom of association and the right to organize, its use of security forces and arbitrary arrests to intimidate peaceful demonstrations, and the lack of legal recognition for union federations,” the administration said.
The following countries continue to be eligible for AGOA benefits: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.
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