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7 Nov, 2023 12:48

African nation unbothered by expulsion from US trade program

Uganda’s president says Washington mistakenly believes the countries of the continent cannot develop without its support
African nation unbothered by expulsion from US trade program

Uganda can meet its growth targets without the support of Western nations, President Yoweri Museveni said on Sunday, downplaying Washington’s decision to kick the African country out of a flagship trade program.

I need to advise you not to be over-concerned by the recent actions by the American government in discouraging their companies from investing in Uganda and on removing Uganda from the AGOA [African Growth and Opportunity Act] list,” Museveni said in a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter).

Uganda has been exporting goods to the US, including coffee and textiles, for many years under the AGOA agreement, which came into force in 2000. The program allows qualified Sub-Saharan African countries to have duty-free access to the US market for more than 1,800 products. It is set to expire in September 2025, and its renewal was not announced at the recent forum in South Africa, as had been expected.

Last week, US President Joe Biden announced his intention to expel the East African country, along with the Central African Republic (CAR), Gabon, and Niger, from AGOA, citing “gross violations” of participation requirements.

Biden had previously threatened to consider the repercussions of an anti-LGBTQ law that the Ugandan government passed in May in a review of Kampala’s eligibility for the trade initiative.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023, which makes “aggravated homosexuality” a capital offense and imposes penalties of up to life in prison for consensual same-sex relations, has been widely criticized and prompted sanctions against the African nation.

The World Bank halted new funding for Uganda in August, claiming that the anti-gay law violated its values of “inclusion and non-discrimination.” The decision came after the US State Department imposed visa restrictions on Ugandan officials in June, warning that those responsible for violating human rights in the African country, including those of LGBTQ people, would face consequences.

Ugandan officials have accused the global financing body of hypocrisy, with President Museveni arguing that the sanction was intended to force his country to abandon its principles and sovereignty.

Biden’s latest punishment of removing Uganda from the AGOA program in January of next year has been linked to US efforts to pressure the African country to repeal the anti-homosexuality legislation.

Museveni advised Ugandans on Sunday to be unconcerned about Washington’s decision, emphasizing his government’s preference for working with foreign partners who respect the country.

Some of these actors in the Western world overestimate themselves and underestimate the freedom fighters of Africa... Some of the foreign actors erroneously think that African countries cannot move forward without their support,” he wrote on X.