USTR announces new petition process to review AGOA country eligibility
Friday, 18 March 2016
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has issued an interim final rule that establishes a petition process to review the eligibility of countries for the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, as required by the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015.
This process will supplement the annual (normal cycle) request for public comments on whether a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country is meeting the AGOA eligibility criteria and requirements.
Petitions filed under this new process must identify the SSA country that would be subject to the review, indicate the specific eligibility requirement or criterion that the petitioner believes warrants review, and include all available supporting arguments and information to explain why a review is warranted.
In addition, any petitions requesting an out-of-cycle review under section 111(d)(4) of the AGOA must contain a statement indicating the existence of exceptional circumstances warranting the out-of-cycle review.
USTR will consider a petition in accordance with the schedule published in the Federal Register for the annual (normal cycle) AGOA review process. If a petition for an out-of-cycle review is received at any other time, the AGOA Implementation Subcommittee will determine whether there are exceptional circumstances warranting such a review. If such circumstances exist, USTR will announce a schedule for the review within 30 days of making such a determination.
Parties wishing to submit input on the new petition process may do so by April 18.
The Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 (TPEA) requires the President to establish a petition process to review the eligibility of countries for the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This authority has been delegated to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
The interim final rule is effective on March 18, 2016. USTR will accept comments on the interim final rule in writing on or before April 18, 2016.
The AGOA (Title I of the Trade and Development Act of 2000, Pub. L. 106-200) (19 U.S.C. 2466a et seq.), as amended, contains provisions for enhanced trade benefits for eligible sub-Saharan African countries.
Section 506(c) of the TPEA, which was signed into law on June 29, 2015 (Pub. L. 114-27, sec. 105(d)(3), 129 Stat. 366-367)), requires the President to establish a process to allow any interested person, at any time, to file a petition with USTR concerning the compliance of any sub-Saharan African country listed in section 107 of the AGOA (19 U.S.C. 3706), with the eligibility requirements set forth in section 104 of the AGOA (19 U.S.C. 3703) and the eligibility criteria set forth in section 502 of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2462). On February 26, 2016, the President delegated this authority to USTR. See E.O. 13720 of Feb. 26, 2016, 81 FR 11087, Mar. 2, 2016.
Download the Federal Register (link above) for full details.