Ethiopia: US Suspends Ethiopia's Duty-Free Access Over Tigray Violations

Vice President Joe Biden addresses the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in August 2014.

Citing "gross violations of internationally recognized human rights," the United States on Tuesday said it suspended Ethiopia's duty-free access to the U.S. market.

Mali and Guinea will also lose access under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

"Today, President Biden announced three countries will be terminated from the AGOA trade preference program as of January 1, 2022, absent urgent action to meet statutory eligibility criteria," said U.S. top trade negotiator Ambassador Katherine Tai in a statement.

"Our Administration is deeply concerned by the unconstitutional change in governments in both Guinea and Mali, and by the gross violations of internationally recognized human rights being perpetrated by the Government of Ethiopia and other parties amid the widening conflict in northern Ethiopia."

The move against Ethiopia comes as a result of a yearlong civil war in the northern Tigray region, which has caused a humanitarian crisis.

Already under the strain of war and the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of access to the U.S. market will further weaken Ethiopia's economy. According to Bloomberg, Ethiopia exported $245 million worth of goods to the U.S. under AGOA. That accounted for half the country's exports to the U.S.

In addition to suspended access via AGOA, the Biden administration recently authorized sanctions against Ethiopian individuals it said are prolonging the war in the northern part of the country.

On Wednesday, the United Nations and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission are releasing a report with the results of their investigation into alleged human rights violations in the Tigray war.

Without a renewal, AGOA is set to expire in 2025.

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