What you need to know:
- The Senior Presidential Advisor on AGOA and Trade Susan Muhwezi says she is confident the US will not stop accepting Uganda exports
Senior Presidential Advisor on AGOA and Trade Susan Muhwezi has said government will continue to engage and lobby against a suspension of Uganda from the AGOA programme announced by US President Joe Biden.
Speaking ahead of a planned African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Summit in South Africa in Kampala yesterday, Ms Muhwezi said Uganda had been “adding value to our cotton, coffee” noting that she was confident that the US would not stop Uganda from accessing the AGOA market”.
“I am heading to South Africa for the AGOA Summit between November 1 and 5. So, we will continue to engage and lobby plus find out what exact human rights [abuse[ they [US] are talking about,” she said.
In a Monday letter about the intent to terminate designation of Uganda and other countries, among them Central African Republic, Gabon and Niger as beneficiary Sub-Saharan African countries under AGOA, President Biden said he was taking this step “because I have determined that Uganda, Central African Republic, Gabon and Niger” do not meet the eligibility requirements of AGOA.
“Central African Republic has engaged in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights ... Niger and Gabon have not established, or are not making continual progress toward establishing, protection of political pluralism and rule of law. Finally, Uganda has engaged in gross violations of internationally recognised human rights,” he wrote, noting that despite intensive engagement all the four countries had failed to address US concerns.
The termination is expected to take effect on January 1, 2024.
Whereas President Biden did not specify which human rights Uganda had allegedly abused, it is widely believed that the suspension could have been sparked off by the recently enacted Anti-Homosexuality Act.
Uganda has faced wide criticism for enacting the law, prompting the World Bank to suspend new lending to the country while the US issued a business advisory about two weeks.
Enacted in May 2000, AGOA provides a liberal access to exporters of especially textile and apparel, through which Uganda earns an average of $10m. During the year ended August 2023, data indicates, Uganda’s earning through AGOA grew to $9.1m from $7.7m in the same period in 2022.