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January 2, 2020

US strips Cameroon of AGOA benefits for human rights violations

US President Donald Trump has stripped the Central African country of Cameroon of its benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) over "persistent gross violations of internationally recognised human rights".

By Michelle Russell

US President Donald Trump has stripped the Central African country of Cameroon of its benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) over “persistent gross violations of internationally recognised human rights”.

Trade preference benefits, including reduced or eliminated tariffs on US imports, ceased from 1 January 2020. Trump had announced the decision in October but confirmed it by proclamation last week.

The decision was made based on the results of the required annual AGOA eligibility review, from which the President determined last year that Cameroon “is out of compliance with eligibility requirements of AGOA”.

Specifically, he said Cameroon had “failed to address concerns regarding persistent human rights violations being committed by cameroonian security forces”. These violations, the USTR said, include “extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and torture.”

Also in the proclamation, Trump announced it was rescinding The Republic of Niger’s, the Central African Republic’s, and the Gambia’s textile and apparel benefits under AGOA, also effective from 1 January. The President said the nations have not established an effective visa system and related customs procedures.

Trump also designated Guinea-Bissau and Niger as less developed beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries under AGOA.

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.

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