Washington — Mali has regained its eligibility for trade benefits under the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
President Obama made his annual determination regarding country eligibility for AGOA on December 23. In addition to continuing the eligibility of the 39 current beneficiary countries, the president reinstated Mali's eligibility beginning January 1, 2014. Forty of the 49 potentially eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa are eligible to receive benefits under AGOA in 2014.
As part of the review, the United States took special note of its continuing concerns about workers' rights issues in Swaziland and said it plans to will conduct an AGOA-eligibility review of Swaziland in May 2014 to assess whether that nation has made measurable progress on the protection of internationally recognized worker rights.
"We believe that AGOA has enhanced economic progress, promoted stability, and improved the business environment for the benefit of both African and American firms," said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in a December 24 press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. "We welcome the progress that Mali has made and look forward to further engagement with AGOA beneficiary countries."
The U.S. government annually determines whether each country eligible for AGOA benefits has met or made "continual progress" during the year in meeting AGOA's eligibility criteria, which include establishment of a market-based economy, the rule of law, economic policies to reduce poverty, protection of internationally recognized worker rights, and efforts to combat corruption.
AGOA allows virtually all marketable goods produced in AGOA-eligible countries to enter the U.S. market duty-free.