US Removes Uganda from AGOA Trade Deal

Uganda, along with the Central African Republic, Gabon, and Niger, has been excluded from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) by the United States, effective January 1. This decision, outlined in a decree by US President Joe Biden on December 29, terminates Uganda’s privilege of exporting specific commodities to the US without additional taxes.

The move is anticipated to have a significant impact on Uganda’s economy, as the country has greatly benefited from Agoa since its inception in 2000. The decision was prompted by Uganda’s enactment of the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Act last year, which includes severe penalties, including life imprisonment or the death penalty, for same-sex conduct.

US President Biden, in a letter to the speaker of the US House of Representatives, stated that despite ongoing discussions between the United States and the affected countries, including Uganda, they failed to address concerns about non-compliance with Agoa eligibility criteria. The Agoa program grants duty-free access to the US for more than 1,800 products for eligible sub-Saharan African countries. Though set to expire in December 2025, the US has indicated intentions to extend it.

Historically, Uganda has primarily exported agricultural goods and textiles duty-free to the United States under Agoa. The agricultural sector, which constitutes over 80% of Uganda’s exports to the US, employs approximately 72% of the country’s workforce. The expulsion from Agoa is likely to result in the loss of thousands of jobs and a decline in economic growth. In the 12 months leading to June 2023, Uganda’s exports to the US under Agoa totalled $8.2 million, representing about 11.5% of its overall exports to the US during the same period, amounting to $70.7 million.

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