U.S President, Joe Biden on Friday, December 29 issued a proclamation reshaping the United States’ trade relations with African nations under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The proclamation, released from the Office of the United States Trade Representative under Presidential action, outlines significant designations and terminations of African Countries. At the same time, the proclamation signals a strategic recalibration of trade relations under the act.
Biden Redesignate’s Mauritania
A pivotal development in the proclamation is the redesignation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
Biden, 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,Biden revealed that Mauritania will be reinstated as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country under section 506A(a)(1) of the Trade Act. Likewise, this would make it eligible for specific trade benefits.
Currently, Mauritania has been recognized as a “lesser developed beneficiary sub-Saharan African country” under section 112(c) of AGOA. This entails a special rules for certain apparel articles.
Biden issues 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
AGOA is currently the cornerstone of U.S. trade policy with sub-Saharan African nations. At the same time, it provides duty-free access to the U.S. market for eligible countries.
On the other hand, the redesignation of Mauritania and the termination of designations for other nations reflect a different approach. The new approach intends to align trade benefits with evolving economic and geopolitical realities.
Biden’s proclamation underlines a commitment to strengthen economic ties with African nations. Likewise, it aims to recognize the importance of fostering mutual and beneficial trade relationships.
Moreover, the termination of designations emphasizes the need for continual progress and adherence to AGOA requirements.