Two US Senate, House Republicans urge Ethiopia to 'correct coure' to avert 'revocation of AGOA benefits'

Two US Senate, House Republicans urge Ethiopia to 'correct coure' to avert 'revocation of AGOA benefits'
Credit: Industrial Parks Development Corporation

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-Texas), issued a statement (see text below) expressing their “hope that the Ethiopian government can correct course and avert a revocation of AGOA benefits.”

The statement came as the Biden Administration is expected to announce its decision on Ethiopia’s eligibility to continue to benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) as early as November.

On August 25, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai held a virtual meeting with Mamo Mihretu, Ethiopia’s Senior Policy Advisor and Chief Trade Negotiator, and “raised the ongoing violations of internationally recognized human rights amid the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia, which could affect Ethiopia’s future African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) eligibility if unaddressed.”

Since then, Ethiopia has been campaigning to avoid revocation amidst growing concerns that the Biden Administration was preparing to remove Ethiopia from AGOA eligibility. “Today, the two most successful exporting industries under the AGOA, apparel and leather, employ about 200,000 people directly—80 percent of them young women. In Hawassa Industrial Park alone, 95 percent of the employees are women, providing in many cases the first-ever jobs for young families,” Mamo wrote in Foreign Policy Magazine. 

The two Senate and House Republicans Risch and McCaul agreed that “AGOA trade benefits have been a strong component of job creation in Ethiopia, and the U.S.-Ethiopia bilateral trade relationship has generated economic benefit for both countries since 2000.” However, they expressed their deep concerns “by credible reports of gross violations of human rights committed by Ethiopian security forces, as well as Eritrean defense forces, Amhara regional forces, and the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front.

Despite consistent calls for a cessation of hostilities by the international community, the fighting has intensified and the gross human rights violations continue unabated.”

They cautioned that it was “up to Prime Minister Abiy to take immediate, concrete action to avoid further gross violations of human rights and to bring Ethiopia into compliance with its obligations to both the Ethiopian people and the eligibility requirements of this trade preference program.”

“The AGOA statute clearly states that any country responsible for committing gross violations of human rights shall lose its eligibility for preferential AGOA trade benefits. We are greatly concerned that the Ethiopian government, as a direct result of its continuing reckless actions, could force Ethiopia’s expulsion from a program that supports the livelihoods of millions of Ethiopians. If Ethiopia’s AGOA benefits are revoked, the responsibility will fall solely upon the government of Prime Minister Abiy.” 


 OCTOBER 26, 2021

 

RISCH, MCCAUL URGE GOVERNMENT OF ETHIOPIA TO TAKE ACTION TO RETAIN AGOA BENEFITS

 

WASHINGTON – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-Texas) released the following statement as the Biden Administration reviews country eligibility for trade benefits laid out in the African Growth and Opportunity (AGOA) Act:

“AGOA trade benefits have been a strong component of job creation in Ethiopia, and the U.S.-Ethiopia bilateral trade relationship has generated economic benefit for both countries since 2000. However, we are deeply concerned by credible reports of gross violations of human rights committed by Ethiopian security forces, as well as Eritrean defense forces, Amhara regional forces, and the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front. Despite consistent calls for a cessation of hostilities by the international community, the fighting has intensified and the gross human rights violations continue unabated.

“The AGOA statute clearly states that any country responsible for committing gross violations of human rights shall lose its eligibility for preferential AGOA trade benefits. We are greatly concerned that the Ethiopian government, as a direct result of its continuing reckless actions, could force Ethiopia’s expulsion from a program that supports the livelihoods of millions of Ethiopians. If Ethiopia’s AGOA benefits are revoked, the responsibility will fall solely upon the government of Prime Minister Abiy. 

“We sincerely hope that the Ethiopian government can correct course and avert a revocation of AGOA benefits, but it is up to Prime Minister Abiy to take immediate, concrete action to avoid further gross violations of human rights and to bring Ethiopia into compliance with its obligations to both the Ethiopian people and the eligibility requirements of this trade preference program.”

Source: US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

###

View related news articles

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman asks US trade commission to investigate impact of AGOA program

Today, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) sent a letter to U.S. International Trade Commission (Commission) Chairman Jason E. Kearns requesting that the Commission initiate a fact-finding investigation on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a trade program that fosters economic development in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Chairman Neal’s request reflects deep interest among members of the...

19 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’s economy hit as major clothing maker closes shop

Ethiopia’s once rapidly growing economy is taking another hit tied to its yearlong war, with global clothing manufacturer PVH Corp. saying it is closing its facility there because of the “speed and volatility of the escalating situation.” PVH, whose brands include Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, has been a marquee occupant of Ethiopia’s model industrial park in the city of Hawassa, where Africa’s second-most populous country has...

19 November 2021

Trade Subcommittee hearing on strengthening the US-Africa trade and investment relationship

(As prepared for delivery) Date: Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - 11:00am Chairman Blumenauer opening statement: Today’s hearing is the next step in this Committee’s ongoing work on the U.S. – Africa trade and investment relationship.  We met with the President of Kenya as well as Kenya’s Ambassador to the United States to discuss trade matters.  And, recently, we led congressional engagement with African trade...

17 November 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

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