Mali has been reinstated as eligible for benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a year after being suspended from the programme.

The move, made at the end of December, came as part of an annual review of beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries.

With the addition of Mali, 40 of the 49 potentially eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa are now eligible to receive benefits under AGOA in 2014.

Mali was last year deemed ineligible for AGOA because of a government coup in March 2012.  However, in July 2013, the country inaugurated a democratically-elected president who has focused on implementing market-based reforms, investing in infrastructure and human capital.

The new government of President Keita and has also pledged to address public sector corruption, combat human rights abuses, and strengthen rule of law.

Mali has already had its visa system certified, which means that certain textile and apparel imports from that country will be able to benefit from duty-free treatment in the US.

The following countries continue to be eligible for AGOA benefits: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Cote d'Ivoire, Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.

However, the annual review also highlighted the US's "deep concern" about the government of Swaziland's lack of measurable progress on workers' rights issues.