February 28, 2024

Presidential Proclamation Overhauls U.S. Trade Relations with African Nations Under AGOA

President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai attend the Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month Reception Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has issued a proclamation reshaping the United States’ trade landscape with African nations under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

The proclamation, released from the Office of the United States Trade Representative on December 29, 2023, outlines significant designations and terminations, signaling a strategic recalibration of trade relations.

Mauritania’s Redesignation:

A pivotal development in the proclamation is the redesignation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. The President, citing actions taken by the Government of Mauritania, has determined that the country now satisfies the eligibility requirements under section 104 of AGOA and section 502 of the Trade Act. Consequently, Mauritania is reinstated as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country under section 506A(a)(1) of the Trade Act, making it eligible for specific trade benefits.

Mauritania has also been recognized as a “lesser developed beneficiary sub-Saharan African country” under section 112(c) of AGOA, entailing special rules for certain apparel articles.

Termination of Designations:

Conversely, the President has decided to terminate the designations of the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries. This decision, effective January 1, 2024, stems from the determination that these countries no longer meet the stipulated requirements in section 506A(a)(1) of the Trade Act.

This move is expected to have significant implications for trade partnerships, as it marks a shift in focus and eligibility criteria for AGOA benefits.

Impact on Trade Dynamics:

The AGOA, a cornerstone of U.S. trade policy with sub-Saharan African nations, provides duty-free access to the U.S. market for eligible countries. The redesignation of Mauritania and the termination of designations for other nations reflect a nuanced approach to align trade benefits with evolving economic and geopolitical realities.

President Biden’s proclamation underlines a commitment to strengthen economic ties with African nations, recognizing the importance of fostering mutually beneficial trade relationships. The termination of designations emphasizes the need for continual progress and adherence to AGOA requirements.

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