U.S. envisage exclusion of Burundi from AGOA

(Agence Ecofin) - The US is considering excluding Burundi from the AGOA programme (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act), a scheme of trade preferences granted to African countries, due to its lack of respect for criteria required by Washington in matters of Human Rights and democracy, an official of the American Department of State announced on 18 August.

"There is a review process under the AGOA system to examine countries which are not in phase with what we wish to see politically and democratically in terms of Human Rights", Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Under Secretary of State for African Affairs specified during a press conference. "There are discussions in the US government to re-examine the presence of Burundi in this programme", she added.

During the last presidential election, the American government had already decided to suspend its technical assistance to the Electoral Commission of Burundi, denouncing the "continuous efforts of President Pierre Nkurunziza to violate the Arusha Agreement, by standing for a third term and maintaining the electoral calendar without providing the necessary conditions for credible elections".

Initiated by the American Congress in 2000, the AGOA programme exempts more than 70% of products originating in sub-Saharan African countries from customs duties. Each year, Washington updates the list of countries eligible for AGOA based notably on their attachment to a market economy, respect of rule of law and policies to fight against poverty. The programme which has been renewed for an additional 10 years last June, takes into consideration progress or setbacks in democracy in the African countries concerned.