US to end trade benefits for Mauritania over forced labour

Source

President Donald Trump said the United States will revoke Mauritania’s preferred trade status in January because of its failure to make progress on human rights – namely, slavery.

The West African nation will no longer be eligible for benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which affects market access, investment, and reduced or eliminated tariffs on U.S. imports.

“I am providing notice of my intent to terminate the designation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (Mauritania) as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country,” Trump said in a letter to U.S. legislators (download text of letter alongside).

He cited Mauritania’s failure to protect workers, as required under a key AGOA provision, as the reason.

“In particular, Mauritania has made insufficient progress toward combating forced labor, specifically, the scourge of hereditary slavery,” Trump said.  “Despite intensive engagement with the United States, the Government of Mauritania has failed to meet critical required benchmarks to address these issues to date.”

Mauritania will be removed as an AGOA partner on January 1, 2019, although the U.S. government will continue to monitor its progress.

American labor leaders warned last year that conditions in Mauritania should disqualify the nation from participating in AGOA. Activists say Mauritania has seen renewed arrests of anti-slavery activists, in a nation where tougher anti-slavery measures were enacted in 2015 but the rate continues to be one of the highest in the world, according to the Global Slavery Index.

An estimated 90,000 people continue to live in slavery, according to the index’s Walk Free Foundation, which is based in Australia.

 

View related news articles

US says war in Ethiopia's north could affect trade benefits

The ongoing war and humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia's north could affect the country's trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the U.S. Trade Representative's Office said. The AGOA trade programme provides sub-Saharan African nations duty-free access to the United States on the condition they meet certain eligibility requirements, such as eliminating barriers to U.S. trade and investment and making progress towards...

27 August 2021

Reinstatement of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to AGOA

Yesterday evening, President Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation reinstating the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) eligibility for trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).  This decision affirms the DRC’s progress in meeting AGOA’s rigorous eligibility requirements as established by the U.S. Congress and President Tshisekedi’s efforts to reform and strengthen the DRC’s democratic...

05 January 2021

Proclamation to take certain actions under the AGOA [DR Congo] and for other purposes

1. In Proclamation 8618 of December 21, 2010, the President determined that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was not making continual progress in meeting the requirements described in section 506A(a)(1) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (the “Trade Act”), as added by section 111(a) of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (the “AGOA”)(title I of Public Law 106–200, 114 Stat. 251, 257-58 (19 U.S.C. 2466a(a)(1))). Thus,...

22 December 2020

Mali qualifies for AGOA benefits, USTR notifies

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) recently notified that imports of eligible products from Mali qualify for the textile and apparel benefits under the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) beginning August 4 as Mali has adopted an effective visa system and related procedures to prevent the unlawful trans-shipment of textile and apparel articles.Mali has also taken steps to prevent the use of counterfeit documents in...

25 July 2020

Annual review of country eligibility for benefits under AGOA for 2021

Action Notice of initiation of review and request for comments. Download a copy of the official document HERE.  Summary The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is announcing the initiation of the annual review of the eligibility of the sub-Saharan African countries to receive the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The AGOA Implementation Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (AGOA...

10 June 2020

Cameroon, CAR, Gambia, Niger see US AGOA status changes

Cameroon will lose its preferred trade status under the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) on January 1, following a US decision to revoke its status because of its human rights record. The October decision was confirmed through a presidential proclamation last week. Three other African nations also will see AGOA status changes, the White House said.AGOA affect market access, investment and reduced or eliminated tariffs on US...

31 December 2019

Trump ends trade benefits for Cameroon over ‘persistent human rights violations’

President Trump said he will soon ax Cameroon from a trade program that allows African countries to sell goods to the United States on a duty-free basis, citing “persistent human rights violations” in a letter to Congress on Thursday. The decision comes as U.S. officials accuse the Central African nation of extrajudicial killings and unlawful detentions amid conflicts that have displaced more than a half-million people over the...

02 November 2019

Trump scraps trade benefits for Cameroon over rights abuses

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he would end Cameroon’s preferential trade benefits from Jan. 1, citing what he called the African country’s “persistent gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” In a letter to the U.S. Congress, Trump said Cameroon had failed to address U.S. concerns regarding extrajudicial killings, torture and other persistent human rights violations being committed by Cameroonian...

01 November 2019

AGOA eligibility of Cameroon - message to Congress by the White House

TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES In accordance with section 506A(a)(3)(B) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2466a(a)(3)(B)), I am providing notice of my intent to terminate the designation of the Republic of Cameroon (Cameroon) as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). I am taking this step because I have determined that the Government of Cameroon currently engages in...

31 October 2019

AGOA eligibility reviews 2019: Selected extracts from submissions

The public hearing, US Trade and Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa: recent trends and new developments, takes place today, 24 July, in Washington. The witness list can be accessed here . For background on the Hearing, see the USITC Federal Register Notice. Background report:   U.S. trade and investment with Sub Saharan Africa: Recent developments. Extracts from selected advance submissions: Ambassador Sankatana...

24 July 2019

US begins AGOA eligibility review

The annual review of the eligibility of sub-Saharan African countries to receive benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is now underway. In a notice published to the Federal Register last week, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said recommendations are being developed for President Trump on AGOA country eligibility for calendar year 2020. Public comments are due no later than 3 September and information...

02 July 2019