TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

African Exporters Under AGOA Advised to 'Compete' And 'Diversify'

Sunday, 04 January 2004

Source: UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

The US has dropped the Central African Republic (CAR) from its list of countries eligible for tariff preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the White House said on Tuesday.

A proclamation issued by President Bush deleted the CAR, along with Eritrea, from the list of eligible nations because the CAR was "not making continual progress in meeting the requirements" for trade preferences.

AGOA was signed into law on 18 May 2000 and was designed by the US to offer incentives to African nations to open up their economies. The law liberalised access to the US market by expanding duty-free benefits to products including apparel, footwear and certain agricultural goods.

According to the organisation Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa, CAR exports to the US up to 2002 consisted mostly of minerals and metals, but the country ranked among the bottom few sub-Saharan exporters.

Some 37 sub-Saharan countries were approved for tariff preferences in Bush's annual determination, including Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania, AFP reported.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said in a statement carried by AFP that the annual determination signified "which countries are making continued progress toward a market-based economy, the rule of law, free trade, economic policies that will reduce poverty, and a protection of workers' rights".

CAR suffered internal unrest from October 2002-March 2003, when former army chief-of-staff Francois Bozize seized power in a coup from Ange-Felix Patasse.