TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

US warns East African countries to comply with AGOA

Friday, 16 June 2017 Published: | Leonie Barrie

Source: Just-Style.com

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has urged sub-Saharan African countries to comply with the eligibility requirements for AGOA (the African Growth and Opportunity Act) in what is thought to be a veiled warning to Kenya and other members of the East African Community.

In remarks delivered this week at the Corporate Council on Africa's 11th US-Africa Business Summit in Washington, DC, he said: "We must ensure countries currently benefiting from trade preferences granted by our African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) continue complying with the eligibility requirements established in US law.

"The Administration takes these congressional requirements very seriously. And in applying our laws, we will vigorously protect the rights of US companies and workers in the global arena."

Since its inception in 2000, AGOA has given duty-free and quota-free access to the US market on around 6,000 products from qualifying African countries – with textiles and apparel accounting for some 90% of total exports.

But the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) earlier this year filed comments requesting that the Trade Policy Staff Committee launch a review of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) benefits for Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.

The US-based group, which represents US-based used-clothing companies, claims the East African Community (EAC) countries violated AGOA's terms by their decision in February to phase out imports of used clothing beginning in 2019.

SMART believes the ban "directly contradicts requirements that AGOA beneficiaries work towards eliminating barriers to United States trade and investment and promote 'economic policies to reduce poverty."

In response, the Kenyan government has hired Washington lobbying firm Sonoran Policy Group (SPG) to help prevent the country's expulsion from AGOA.

Kenya is the largest apparel exporter within the EAC, exporting US$340.54m worth of apparel to the US last year. However this was a drop of 7.5% on the prior year's $368.27m, with the decline continuing into 2017. In the first four months of this year, the value of apparel exports from Kenya fell 15.95% to $102.78m from $122.28m in the same period a year earlier.

 

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