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The Democratic Republic of Congo once again to benefit from the US AGOA

The Democratic Republic of Congo once again to benefit from the US AGOA
Published date:
Friday, 25 December 2020
Steven Addamah

After almost a decade of exclusion, the Democratic Republic of Congo will once again be able to benefit from the trade preferences offered by AGOA. This decision was made by outgoing US President Donald Trump, while the US is emerging as one of President Tshisekedi’s privileged allies.

On May 19, 2020, Constance Hamilton, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative for Africa, had formally written to Congolese authorities to discuss the conditions for the DRC’s reinstatement under AGOA, the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act.

At the time, the country was witnessing the start of the trial of Vital Kamerhe, the president’s chief of staff, who has since been accused and convicted of embezzlement, while Washington had called for efforts in the fight against corruption.

It was not until November that the proceedings were really relaunched. Kinshasa then highlights advances dating from the Tshisekedi era in various areas, the release of political prisoners, the return of personalities in exile, the creation of the anti-corruption agency or even the measure of free primary education.

But among the advances cited, there are also some older ones, dating from the Kabila era, such as membership of OHADA which harmonizes business law in Africa or the creation of a one-stop shop.

The Congolese head of state of course welcomed this decision and the U.S. ambassador to the DRC praised the efforts of Felix Tshisekedi which could “open up important economic opportunities.
For his part, a former official downplayed. He said that Joseph Kabila’s DRC had protested against his exclusion, because it was “bad news”, but that the country had not lost anything.

“It’s not about mining resources, we didn’t export anything to the US except a bit of coffee,” he explains, convinced that this is a purely political announcement. According to him, it could also be President Trump’s willingness to impose this restoration on the next US administration and perpetuate the status of the new Congolese head of state as a privileged partner.

For the Minister of Foreign Trade who has just joined the Tshisekedi camp, the exclusion from AGOA had really penalized the country. Jean-Lucien Bussa speaks of more than 623 million dollars in exports to the United States, mainly agricultural products, in 2011 against only 21 million in 2019.

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