November 5, 2023 19:03
The US said last week it was cutting Uganda as well as the Central African Republic (CAR), Gabon and Niger from the AGOA from January 2024.
Uganda’s president said Sunday that the US government had overestimated its value to his country after Washington decided to remove the East African nation from a major trade pact over human rights violations.
The US said last week it was cutting Uganda as well as the Central African Republic (CAR), Gabon and Niger from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) from January 2024.
The programme offers duty-free access into the world’s largest economy for sub-Saharan African countries that meet democratic criteria, which are assessed on a yearly basis.
In a letter to Congress, US President Joe Biden said that the governments of the CAR and Uganda had both “engaged in gross violations of internationally recognised human rights”.
Uganda has faced criticism from rights groups, the UN and Western powers over a harsh anti-gay law adopted in May.
But President Yoweri Museveni struck a defiant note on Sunday, telling Ugandans “not to be over-concerned by the recent actions by the American government in discouraging their companies from investing in Uganda and on removing Uganda from the AGOA list”.
“Some of these actors in the Western world overestimate themselves and underestimate the freedom fighters of Africa,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.
“As far as Uganda is concerned, we have the capacity to achieve our growth and transformation targets, even if some of the actors do not support us.”
His senior aide and son-in-law Odrek Rwabwogo had earlier said that Kampala was open to discussing the issue with the US, warning that the decision would hit Ugandan farmers and small business owners.
“While Ugandan trade through AGOA was insubstantial, growth of our exports to the US and other partners was an important pillar of our economic strategy going forward,” Rwabwogo said in a statement released on Wednesday.
Biden had called for the immediate repeal of the anti-gay legislation after it was passed, and threatened to cut aid and investment in Uganda.
The law adopted in May contains provisions making “aggravated homosexuality” a capital offence and imposes penalties for consensual same-sex relations of up to life in prison.
The World Bank announced in August it was suspending new loans to Uganda, and last month the US State Department warned about the risk of doing business there.
Museveni has accused the World Bank of using money to try to “coerce” the government to drop the controversial legislation.
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