Annual review of country eligibility for benefits under AGOA for 2021

Annual review of country eligibility for benefits under AGOA for 2021
Published date:
Wednesday, 10 June 2020

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 Subcommittee) is developing recommendations for the President on AGOA country eligibility for calendar year 2021.

The AGOA Subcommittee requests comments for this review. Due to COVID-19, the AGOA Subcommittee will foster public participation via written submissions rather than an in-person hearing.

This notice includes the schedule for submission of comments and responses to questions from the AGOA Subcommittee related to this review.

Dates

June 24, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EDT: Deadline for submission of written comments on the eligibility of sub-Saharan African countries to receive the benefits of AGOA.

July 7, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EDT: Deadline for the AGOA Subcommittee to pose any questions on written comments.

July 16, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EDT: Deadline for submission of commenters' responses to questions from the AGOA Subcommittee.

July 25, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EDT: Deadline for replies from other interested parties to the written comments and responses to questions.

August 4, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EDT: Deadline for the AGOA Subcommittee to pose any additional questions on written comments.

August 13, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EDT: Deadline for submission of responses to any additional questions from the AGOA Subcommittee.

Addresses

USTR strongly prefers electronic submissions made through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov (Regulations.gov), using Docket Number USTR-2020-0020. Follow the instructions for submitting comments in “Requirements for Submissions” below. For alternatives to on-line submissions, please contact Bennett Harman, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa, in advance of the relevant deadline at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (202) 395-9612.

For Further Information Contact

Please contact Bennett Harman, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (202) 395-9612.

Supplementary Information

I. Background

AGOA (Title I of the Trade and Development Act of 2000, Pub. L. 106-200) (19 U.S.C. 2466a et seq.), as amended, authorizes the President to designate sub-Saharan African countries as beneficiaries eligible for duty-free treatment for certain additional products not included for duty-free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) (Title V of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2461 et seq.) (1974 Act), as well as for the preferential treatment for certain textile and apparel articles. The President may designate a country as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country eligible for AGOA benefits if he determines that the country meets the eligibility criteria set forth in section 104 of AGOA (19 U.S.C. 3703) and section 502 of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2462).

Section 104 of AGOA includes requirements that the country has established or is making continual progress toward establishing, among other things:

  • A market-based economy
  • the rule of law
  • political pluralism
  • the right to due process
  • the elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment
  • economic policies to reduce poverty
  • a system to combat corruption and bribery
  • protection of internationally recognized worker rights

In addition, the country may not engage in activities that undermine U.S. national security or foreign policy interests or engage in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. Section 502 of the 1974 Act provides for country eligibility criteria under GSP. For a complete list of the AGOA eligibility criteria and more information on the GSP criteria, see section 104 of the AGOA and section 502 of the 1974 Act.

Section 506A of the 1974 Act requires the President to monitor and annually review the progress of each sub-Saharan African country in meeting the foregoing eligibility criteria in order to determine if a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country should continue to be eligible, and if a sub-Saharan African country that currently is not a beneficiary, should be designated as a beneficiary. If the President determines that a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country is not making continual progress in meeting the eligibility requirements, the President must terminate the designation of the country as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country. The President also may withdraw, suspend, or limit the application of duty-free treatment with respect to specific articles from a country if he determines that it would be more effective in promoting compliance with AGOA eligibility requirements than terminating the designation of the country as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country.

For 2020, the President designated the following 38 countries as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries:

1. Angola

2. Benin

3. Botswana

4. Burkina Faso

5. Cabo Verde

6. Central African Republic

7. Chad

8. Comoros

9. Republic of Congo

10. Cote d'Ivoire

11. Djibouti

12. Eswatini

13. Ethiopia

14. Gabon

15. The Gambia

16. Ghana

17. Guinea

18. Guinea-Bissau

19. Kenya

20. Lesotho

21. Liberia

22. Madagascar

23. Malawi

24. Mali

25. Mauritius

26. Mozambique

27. Namibia

28. Niger

29. Nigeria

30. Rwanda (AGOA apparel benefits suspended effective July 31, 2018)

31. Sao Tome & Principe

32. Senegal

33. Sierra Leone

34. South Africa

35. Tanzania

36. Togo

37. Uganda

38. Zambia

 

The President did not designate the following sub-Saharan African countries as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries for 2020:

1. Burundi

2. Cameroon

3. Democratic Republic of Congo

4. Equatorial Guinea (graduated from GSP)

5. Eritrea

6. Mauritania

7. Seychelles (graduated from GSP)

8. Somalia

9. South Sudan

10. Sudan

11. Zimbabwe

The AGOA Subcommittee is seeking public comments to develop recommendations to the President in connection with the annual review of sub-Saharan African countries' eligibility for AGOA benefits. The Secretary of Labor may consider comments related to the child labor criteria to prepare the U.S. Department of Labor's report on child labor as required under section 504 of the 1974 Act.

II. Public Participation

Due to COVID-19, the AGOA Subcommittee will foster public participation via written submissions rather than an in-person hearing for the 2020 AGOA Eligibility Review. USTR invites public comment according to the schedule set out in the Dates section above. The AGOA Subcommittee will review comments and replies to comments, if any, and may ask clarifying questions to commenters according to the schedule set out above. The AGOA Subcommittee will post the questions it asks on the public docket, other than questions that include properly designated business confidential information (BCI). Any questions that include properly designated BCI will not be posted on the docket for public viewing, but rather will be sent via email to the relevant commenters. Replies to these questions that also contain BCI must follow procedures laid out in section IV.

III. Requirements for Submissions

You must submit comments and answers to questions from the AGOA Subcommittee by the applicable deadlines set forth in this notice. You must make all submissions in English via Regulations.gov, using Docket Number USTR-2012-0020. USTR will not accept hand-delivered submissions. To make a submission using Regulations.gov, enter Docket Number USTR-2012-0020 in the ‘search for’ field on the home page and click ‘search.’ The site will provide a search-results page listing all documents associated with this docket. Find a reference to this notice by selecting ‘notice’ under ‘document type’ in the ‘filter results by’ section on the left side of the screen and click on the link entitled ‘comment now.’ The Regulations.gov website offers the option of providing comments by filling in a ‘type comment’ field or by attaching a document using the ‘upload file(s)’ field. The AGOA Subcommittee prefers that you provide submissions in an attached document and note ‘see attached’ in the ‘type comment’ field on the online submission form. At the beginning of the submission, or on the first page (if an attachment) include the following text (in bold and underlined): (1) “2020 AGOA Eligibility Review”; (2) the relevant country or countries; and (3) whether the document is a comment, a reply to a comment, or an answer to an AGOA Subcommittee question. Submissions should not exceed 30 single-spaced, standard letter-size pages in 12-point type, including attachments. Include any data attachments to the submission in the same file as the submission itself, and not as separate files.

You will receive a tracking number upon completion of the submission procedure at Regulations.gov. The tracking number is confirmation that Regulations.gov received the submission. Keep the confirmation for your records. USTR is not able to provide technical assistance for Regulations.gov. USTR may not consider documents you do not submit in accordance with these instructions. If you are unable to provide submissions as requested, please contact Bennett Harman, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (202) 395-9612, in advance of the relevant deadline to arrange for an alternative method of transmission. General information concerning USTR is available at www.ustr.gov.

IV. Business Confidential Submissions

If you ask USTR to treat information you submitted as BCI, you must certify that the information is business confidential and you would not customarily release it to the public. You must clearly designate BCI by marking the submission “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” at the top and bottom of the cover page and each succeeding page, and indicating, via brackets, the specific information that is BCI. Additionally, you must include ‘Business Confidential’ in the ‘type comment’ field. For any submission containing BCI, you must separately submit a non-confidential version, i.e., not as part of the same submission with the confidential version, indicating where BCI has been redacted. USTR will post the non-confidential version in the docket and it will be open to public inspection.

V. Public Viewing of Review Submissions

USTR will make public versions of all documents relating to these reviews available for public viewing pursuant to 15 CFR 2017.4, in Docket Number USTR-2020-0020 on Regulations.gov, upon completion of processing, usually within two weeks of the relevant due date or date of the submission.

VI. Petitions

At any time, any interested party may submit a petition to USTR with respect to whether a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country is meeting the AGOA eligibility requirements. An interested party may file a petition through www.regulations.gov, under docket number USTR-2020-0020.

Edward Gresser,

Chair of the Trade Policy Staff Committee, Office of the United States Trade Representative.

[FR Doc. 2020-10218 Filed 5-12-20; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3290-F0-P


>> Download a copy of the official document HERE


 

View related news articles

What does the US decision to delist three African countries from AGOA status imply?

Trade is one highly significant part of Africa’s story. Its pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial transitions are all marked by trade. But for many years, African trade has struggled with several challenges: poor infrastructure, high transaction costs, opportunism and unfriendly policies. So when President Bill Clinton signed the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2000, African countries were given a competitive edge by...

11 January 2022

US takes Ethiopia, Mali, Guinea off AGOA program

The United States on Saturday cut Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea from access to a duty-free trade program, following through on President Joe Biden's threat to do so over accusations of human rights violations and recent coups. "The United States today terminated Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea from the AGOA trade preference program due to actions taken by each of their governments in violation of the AGOA Statute," the U.S. Trade Representative's...

01 January 2022

Despite a late push, Ethiopia is set to exit the US trade pact

Despite a last-minute drive backed by diaspora members who fear that Washington may lose an ally, Ethiopia is likely to lose important commercial privileges in the United States on January 1 due to human rights concerns. President Joe Biden said on November 2 that Ethiopia, a longtime US ally and the continent’s second most populous country, will be removed from the African Growth and Opportunity Act in the New Year, citing “grave...

30 December 2021

US President terminates AGOA preferences for Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea

U.S. President Joe Biden announced yesterday that he has “determined that Ethiopia, Guinea, and Mali do not meet” the AGOA requirements described in section 506A(a)(1) and has proceeded to “terminate the designation of the three countries as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries …effective January 1, 2022.” On November 21, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs lamented the impending decision by the U.S. to remove Ethiopia...

24 December 2021

Senator Van Hollen, Representative Bass urge Biden Administration to reconsider Ethiopia's suspension from AGOA

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) urged President Biden to reconsider his Administration’s November 2, 2021 decision to terminate Ethiopia’s designation as a beneficiary country under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) at the end of this year. As the lawmakers note in their letter (download a copy at the link alongside), this decision will hurt the nation’s most vulnerable...

23 December 2021

US terminates duty-free trade access to Ethiopia over conflict

Ethiopia’s duty-free export access to the U.S. has been revoked by President Joe Biden due to its failure to meet the requirements, according to the White House. The action comes after 13 months of civil war in the country. Ethiopia is disqualified from participation in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act due to gross violations of human rights, the U.S. Trade Representative said when it notified Ethiopia in November....

23 December 2021

'Ethiopia approaches civil war - but Team Biden should avoid harming AGOA'

As day turns to night in Ethiopia, International crisis negotiators are feverishly working to avoid an all-out civil war. America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is in nearby Kenya trying to help resolve the crisis.  America utilized several pressure tactics to try to bring this outbreak to a resolution but none have worked so far. The latest is to give Ethiopia a 60-day notice of withdrawal from the African Growth...

17 November 2021

Why US is suspending Ethiopia, Mali, Guinea trom AGOA 'trade deal'

In response to human rights violations, the United States announced this week that it plans to suspend Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea from duty-free access to American markets as of January 1, 2022.U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement to Congress, released Tuesday (see alongside), that these nations were no longer in compliance with the eligibility requirements for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). He cited various...

09 November 2021

Statement from Ambassador Tai on the AGOA eligibility review

WASHINGTON – Ambassador Katherine Tai today released the following statement on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA):  “Today, President Biden announced three countries will be terminated from the AGOA trade preference program as of January 1, 2022, absent urgent action to meet statutory eligibility criteria. Our Administration is deeply concerned by the unconstitutional change in governments in both Guinea and Mali, and by...

02 November 2021

US to suspend Ethiopia, Guinea and Mali from AGOA in 60 days

Ethiopia is to be suspended from the United States’ tariff-free African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in a sign of the continuing deterioration in relations between the countries amid Ethiopia’s ongoing war in Tigray. Ethiopia is one of three African countries – alongside coup-hit Guinea and Mali – which will lose access to the scheme, which provides tariff-free access to the US market for African manufacturers, from January...

02 November 2021

Ethiopia pushes to keep AGOA access amid US rights concerns

Ethiopia urged the U.S. to let it retain market access under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) because disqualification will deprive many people of their livelihoods in the conflict-wracked country. A withdrawal of the preferential access would put as many as 85,000 direct jobs at risk and about 1 million across the entire value chain, Ethiopia’s Chief Trade Negotiator Mamo Meheretu said in an interview from the capital, Addis...

08 October 2021