TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Tanzania: Key US Congress members raise concerns about elections and treatment of US investors

Thursday, 01 October 2020

Source: The Street Journal

The ranking Democratic and Republican members of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa are packing a resolution urging the government of Tanzania to respect human and economic rights and to conduct free and fair elections on October 28.

House Resolution 1120 – sponsored by California Democrat Karen Bass, who chairs the subcommittee, and the ranking Republican, Chris Smith from New Jersey – reflects growing concern over political and economic developments in Tanzania by members of Congress who follow Africa.

Since the election in 2015 of President John Magufuli, the resolution states, “Tanzania has adopted and enforced multiple repressive laws that restrict freedom of the press, and of expression, assembly, and association.”  

Keep track of the Bill here:



 

Citing reports of corruption and harassment of U.S. companies operating in Tanzania, the resolution criticizes the government’s “lack of respect for contracts and business operations that threaten future U.S. businesses investment and trade partnerships.”

Protection of U.S. investor rights is an issue that enjoys bipartisan support, and there are several U.S. commercial disputes in the country at this time. But the driver behind this Congressional expression of concern is the government’s nearly four-year dispute with Symbion Power, centered on the breach of a 15-year power purchasing agreement for the Ubungo power plant.

Symbion is a New York-based independent power producer that develops and operates projects in several African countries and has operated in the Middle East and Asia as well.

Former President Barack Obama launched his Power Africa Initiative at the Ubungo power plant in 2013. Power Africa has continued to enjoy the support of the Trump administration and has been further enhanced by the launch of Prosper Africa, and the establishment of the U.S. Development Finance Corporation.

In June, a letter submitted on behalf of Symbion under the annual eligibility review process of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa),  said the contract abrogation by the Tanzanian government “was taken without cause nor compensation and despite good-faith efforts by the company to seek a mutually agreed to solution.”

In the submission to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Symbion requested that the agency “critically consider whether the Government of Tanzania is meeting the criteria to remain an Agoa beneficiary country, and what benchmarks need to be set to assure compliance with these unilateral trade preferences.”

According to the Symbion letter, commercial disputes with U.S. companies could jeopardize Tanzania’s continued eligibility to export duty-free apparel to the U.S. under Agoa. Recently, apparel exports to the U.S. totalled near $40 million, supporting thousands of Tanzanian jobs.


 

View related news articles

Tanzanian home textiles firms gain insights on US market

Tanzanian home textiles firms gain insights on US market

Tanzanian textile companies received a boost to their efforts to export products to the U.S. after attending a half-day workshop hosted by the USAID Hub. Fifteen Tanzanian design enterprises learned about U.S. market opportunities on January 15 in Dar es Salaam from Margaret Bishop, an expert in textile and apparel production and quality management. Ms. Bishop provided the...

24 January, 2019
Hello, America! USAID, direct flights to increase AGOA exports to US

Hello, America! USAID, direct flights to increase AGOA exports to US

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) Hub will from November 2018 to March 2019 provide direct support in the audit and Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) certification process. Already, USAID is helping companies in the East African region become more export competitive. WRAP is a minimum standard for social compliance where US textile and...

19 October, 2018
Opinion: Banning second-hand imports doesn't solve East Africa's clothes problem

Opinion: Banning second-hand imports doesn't solve East Africa's clothes problem

Banning the import of second-hand clothes is not the answer to reviving East Africa's textile industry. But the deal to phase out the imports also hands another political score to the US, writes DW's Isaac Mugabi. The move to not ban the sale of second-hand clothing was a relief to petty traders. In 2015, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania agreed on a three-year plan...

05 March, 2018
'US threats force EAC to back down on secondhand clothes ban' - Article

'US threats force EAC to back down on secondhand clothes ban' - Article

East African countries have backed down on their initial stand on banning the importation secondhand clothing. Instead they will use of tax measures and incentives to spur local manufacturing. During the EAC Heads of State retreat on infrastructure and health financing in Kampala, the EAC presidents resolved to prioritise the development of a competitive domestic textile...

24 February, 2018
EAC heads of state to meet over health, infrastructure and AGOA

EAC heads of state to meet over health, infrastructure and AGOA

East African Community Heads of State are expected to convene in Uganda’s capital Kampala next week to discuss a number of regional matters, including infrastructure and health sector growth. Olivier Nduhungirehe, the State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East African Community, confirmed to The New Times on the agenda includes a two-day...

19 February, 2018
Three African nations may face AGOA sanctions if Mitumba banned

Three African nations may face AGOA sanctions if Mitumba banned

Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda will face US trade penalties, including losing eligibility for duty-free clothing exports to the US market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), if they decide to stop import of used clothes from the United States, according to the US State Department. The three countries have time till next week to take the...

19 February, 2018
East Africa: US gives three countries ultimatum to reverse mitumba ban

East Africa: US gives three countries ultimatum to reverse mitumba ban

East African nations that are en-route to banning the importation of used clothes may soon pay the price after Washington said it will impose trade penalties in retaliation to what it sees as a blockage of free trade. The US State Department's Harry Sullivan, the Africa Bureau acting head of the economic and regional affairs, said Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda have until next...

15 February, 2018
Lobbyist says US likely to punish East Africa over mitumba ban

Lobbyist says US likely to punish East Africa over mitumba ban

Donald Trump administration trade officials are likely to rule that three East African countries are violating eligibility terms for the US preferential trade programme for Africa, a lobbyist for Kenya warned on Friday. “The stars are aligned” for such a ruling before the end of the year, said Washington based attorney Paul Ryberg, an expert on the Africa Growth and...

26 August, 2017
US says Africa must allow import of used clothing

US says Africa must allow import of used clothing

The U.S. has advised  African countries against banning importation of used clothing, for them to continue benefiting from Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) Scheme which came into being May, 2000. AGOA is a U.S. Trade Act aimed at significantly enhancing market access to the U.S. for qualifying Sub-Saharan African countries. Acting Assistant U.S. Trade...

04 August, 2017
Trade experts fault US over AGOA review

Trade experts fault US over AGOA review

The US government has been faulted by trade and economic experts for the out-of-cycle review of the American Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) which could see Rwanda and East African countries barred from duty-free access to the US market. The review which began on July 13, is a response to a move by Rwanda and fellow East African Community countries to phase out and...

24 July, 2017