Cameroons trade preference benefits will cease from 1 January 2020

Cameroon's trade preference benefits will cease from 1 January 2020

US President Donald Trump has announced his intention to strip the Central African country of Cameroon of its benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) over "persistent gross violations of internationally recognized human rights".

In an announcement last week, the office of US Trade Representative (USTR) said trade preference benefits will cease from 1 January 2020.

The decision is based on the results of the required annual AGOA eligibility review, from which the President determined that Cameroon "is out of compliance with eligibility requirements of AGOA".

Specifically, Cameroon has "failed to address concerns regarding persistent human rights violations being committed by Cameroonian security forces".

These violations, the USTR says, include "extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and torture."

"The US government remains deeply concerned about persistent gross violations of human rights being committed by the Cameroonian government against its own citizens," said Deputy US Trade Representative CJ Mahoney. "This action underscores the Administration's commitment to upholding the human rights criteria as required in the AGOA legislation. We urge the government of Cameroon to work with the United States and the international community to strengthen protection of human rights under the law and to publicly hold to account those who engage in human rights violations."

The US said it will continue to monitor whether Cameroon continues to engage in gross violations of internationally recognised human rights in accordance with the AGOA eligibility requirements.

In order to qualify for AGOA trade benefits, partner countries must meet certain statutory eligibility requirements, including not engaging in gross violations of internationally recognised human rights. Other criteria include making continual progress toward establishing the rule of law, political pluralism, establishing internationally recognised worker rights, and the elimination of barriers to US trade and investment.

In July, an annual survey of violations of human and trade union rights published by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), found attacks on workers reached unprecedented levels in Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, Ghana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe in 2018.