June 12, 2024

After Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea, Biden announces he is removing Burkina Faso from AGOA trade program following coup

President Joe Biden makes phone calls to CEOs to discuss reforms to the ocean shipping industry, Wednesday, June 8, 2022, in the Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Carlos Fyfe)

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced on Wednesday that he will be removing Burkina Faso from AGOA trade program on January 1, 2023, following a military coup in the West African nation in September.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA is a piece of legislation that was approved by the U.S. Congress in May 2000, officially to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and improve economic relations between the United States and Africa.

Although not perfect and sometimes controversial, AGOA provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for over 1,800 products, in addition to the more than 5,000 products that are eligible for duty-free access under the Generalized System of Preferences program.

“I am taking this step because I have determined that the Government of Burkina Faso has not established, or is not making continual progress toward establishing, the protection of the rule of law and of political pluralism, as stated in the eligibility requirements of section 104 of the AGOA,” President Biden said in a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate.    

“Accordingly, I intend to terminate the designation of Burkina Faso as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country under the AGOA, effective January 1, 2023.  I will continue to assess whether the Government of Burkina Faso is making continual progress toward meeting the AGOA eligibility requirements,” he added.

Biden said that he was providing advance notification to the Speaker and Senate President of his intent to terminate the designation of Burkina Faso as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in accordance with section 506A(a)(3)(B) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2466a(a)(3)(B)).

Burkina Faso military ruler Paul-Henri Damiba was deposed last September and his government dissolved by a group of officers, the latest coup in West Africa where nations like Mali, Guinea and Chad have experienced coups in recent times.

Damiba overthrew President Roch Kabore in a coup only nine months ago, and the new leader who addressed the nation in a statement read on national television said that Damiba was overthrown due to his inability to quell uprising in the West African nation.

Early this year, the United States cut Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea out of a duty-free trade program over alleged human rights violations and recent coups.

In a statement, the US Trade Representative (USTR) said it terminated the three countries from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) “due to actions taken by each of their governments in violation of the AGOA Statute”.

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