Uganda on AGOA’s Edge: Lobbying to Prevent Export Suspension
|Susan Muhwezi||Senior Presidential Advisor on AGOA & Trade|
|President Joe Biden||President of the United States|
Summary of AGOA Suspension
|Country||Reason for Suspension||Effective Date|
|Uganda||Alleged gross human rights violations (unspecified)||January 1, 2024|
|Central African Republic||Gross violations of human rights||January 1, 2024|
|Gabon||Lack of progress in establishing rule of law||January 1, 2024|
|Niger||Lack of progress in establishing political pluralism||January 1, 2024|
Senior Presidential Advisor on AGOA and Trade, Susan Muhwezi, has expressed confidence in the continuation of Uganda’s participation in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) program despite recent suspension threats by US President Joe Biden.
Muhwezi, speaking ahead of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Summit scheduled for November 1-5 in South Africa, stated that Uganda had been actively contributing by “adding value to our cotton and coffee.” She believed that the US would not halt Uganda’s access to 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 letter issued on Monday, President Biden indicated his intent to terminate Uganda’s designation as a beneficiary Sub-Saharan African country under AGOA, citing its failure to meet AGOA’s eligibility requirements. Alongside Uganda, Central African Republic, Gabon, and Niger were also included in this decision.
President Biden’s letter expressed concerns related to human rights abuses. Central African Republic was noted for gross human rights violations, while Niger and Gabon were criticized for their lack of progress in establishing political pluralism and the rule of law. Uganda, though not specified for any particular human rights violation, was criticized for its alleged engagement in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.
The termination of these countries’ AGOA eligibility is set to take effect on January 1, 2024. It is widely believed that Uganda’s recent enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act may have triggered the suspension.
Uganda’s decision to enact the Anti-Homosexuality Act had drawn extensive international criticism, leading to the suspension of new lending to Uganda by the World Bank. Additionally, the United States issued a business advisory concerning Uganda’s stance on this matter.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), enacted in May 2000, provides favorable access for exporters, particularly in the textile and apparel industry. Uganda has greatly benefited from AGOA, with average annual earnings of around $10 million. Notably, data from the year ending in August 2023 shows Uganda’s AGOA earnings grew to $9.1 million from $7.7 million in the same period in 2022.