The US removed access for Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea from a duty-free trade program on Saturday, due to their recent alleged human rights violations and coups.
US President Joe Biden had threatened to remove Ethiopia from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in November, due to human rights violations in the Tigray region. Mali and Guinea have been targeted due to recent coups.
US 'deeply concerned' about these governments
"The Biden-Harris Administration is deeply concerned by the unconstitutional change in governments in both Guinea and Mali, and by the gross violations of internationally recognized human rights being perpetrated by the Government of Ethiopia and other parties amid the widening conflict in northern Ethiopia," the US Trade Representative (USTR) said in a statement.
The suspension of trade benefits could threaten Ethiopia's textile industry, which supplies to global fashion brands. The country's economy is already struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Tigray conflict.
Ethiopia's Trade Ministry said the move would reverse economic gains and negatively impact women and children, adding that it was "extremely disappointed" by the action.
The AGOA program was started by former US President Bill Clinton in the 1990s to facilitate trade between the US and African nations. Some changes were made by the US Congress in 2015, and the program was extended to 2025. In 2020, 38 countries were eligible for AGOA, according to the USTR website.
tg/aw (AFP, Reuters)