President Biden has announced that effective Jan. 1, 2024, the U.S. will reinstate African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade preference program benefits for Mauritania, and terminate benefits for four countries: Gabon, Niger, the Central African Republic, and Uganda.
The AGOA provides duty-free treatment to goods of designated sub-Saharan African countries. The program began in 2000 and covers non-textile and textile goods. Eligibility for the AGOA is reviewed annually.
More than 5,200 tariff items are eligible for AGOA benefits. To be eligible, an item must be either wholly obtained (grown, fished, mined, etc.) or sufficiently manufactured in an AGOA country. Sufficiently manufactured means that all third-country materials have undergone a substantial transformation, and at least 35% of the good’s value is added in the beneficiary country, with up to 15% of that value attributable to U.S. inputs. Additionally, the good must be imported directly.
According to a press release, Mauritia’s eligibility is being reinstated based on progress that it has made with respect to the 2019 termination of its benefits due to worker rights concerns, as well as the government’s willingness to work with the United States to continue to make substantial and measurable progress on worker rights and eliminating forced labor across the country.
“Mauritania’s continued partnership with, support for, and empowerment of labor, civil, and human rights organizations will be key to its success,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai. “Using the tools provided by the AGOA program, we will closely monitor Mauritania’s progress, in effectively and decisively protecting internationally recognized worker rights, particularly eradicating the scourge of hereditary slavery.”
Gabon and Niger’s AGOA eligibility will be terminated due to unconstitutional changes of government in those two countries. Benefits will also be terminated for the Central African Republic and Uganda on the basis of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights being perpetrated by those governments.
“Absent urgent changes, these four countries are set to be removed from the program due to actions taken by their governments that are inconsistent with the AGOA eligibility criteria,” said Ambassador Tai. “The United States urges these governments to take necessary actions to meet those criteria so that we can resume our valued trading partnerships. I will provide each of these countries with clear benchmarks for a pathway toward reinstatement, and our Administration will work with them to achieve that objective.”
Per 19 CFR 24.23(c)(1), textile goods, which are entered using HTSUS 9819, and all goods of Least Developed Beneficiary Developing Countries (LDBDCs) (HTSUS General Note 4(b)(i)) are exempt from merchandise processing fee (MPF).
To stay informed on trade news and other important updates, stay connected with a customs broker.