US to remove Uganda from Agoa trade deal

Left to right: First Daughter Natasha Karugire, President Museveni and his US counterpart Joe Biden and Jill Biden at the White House in US during the US-Africa leaders summit in December 2022. PHOTO/PPU

What you need to know:

  • Recent official data indicates that Uganda’s exports to the US had reached $200m annually.

President Joe Biden has written to the United States of America legislative body expressing intent to terminate Ugandan exports to his country through the African Growth and Opportunity Act(AGOA) over allegations of human rights violations.

On Monday, Biden wrote to the Speaker of Senate, accusing African countries including Uganda, Gabon, Niger and Central African Republic of human rights violations.

“In accordance with section 506A(a)(3)(B) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2466a(a)(3)(B)), I am providing advance notification of my intent to terminate the designation of the Central African Republic, the Gabonese Republic (Gabon), Niger, and the Republic of Uganda (Uganda) as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA),” he noted.

The termination is due January 2024 should Uganda fail to meet the AGOA eligibility requirements.

Biden’s move follows President Museveni’s May 2023 assent to the Anti-Homosexuality Act followed by several allegations of rights abuses targeting dissidents with more than 50 people reported missing or killed since the 2021 general election in Uganda.

In May, Biden signaled that Washington would incorporate impacts of Uganda’s anti-gay law into the annual review for the East African country’s AGOA eligibility.

Recent official data indicates that Uganda’s exports to the US had reached $200m annually.

“I am taking this step because I have determined that the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda do not meet the eligibility requirements of section 104 of the AGOA.  Specifically, the government of Uganda has engaged in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights,” Biden emphasizes in his letter.

Combo: Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni (L) and his US counterpart Joe Biden (R)

Last month, President Museveni told the country that some US firms had already started cancelling export orders from Uganda over the anti-gay law.

“The homosexuals in the US are interfering with our export of textiles…But I am not concerned about that because the money you have been squandering with second-hand clothes importing other people’s fabrics is much more than what we are going to earn from the sales to the US,” the Ugandan leader added.


Under AGOA, Uganda, like other beneficiary countries, is supposed to allow the importation of secondhand clothes, which are largely from the US, into their market.

Since August this year, President Museveni has maintained threats to ban importation of secondhand clothes in what appears to be retaliatory action against the ban on Uganda’s export to the US.

“I have declared war on second-hand clothes to promote African wear. We are going to stop importation of second-hand clothes to create jobs from textile factories.  I will crush anybody who will stand in my way. We will not allow second-hand clothes to enter into the country anymore,” Museveni said at the opening of 16 factories in Mbale last month.