Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni hits back over expulsion from US-Africa trade pact Agoa

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AFP Image caption, President Yoweri Museveni said Uganda could prosper on its own
AFP Image caption, President Yoweri Museveni said Uganda could prosper on its own

By:BBC

Uganda’s president has downplayed the US’ decision to expel the East African country from a major trade deal.

Last week, Joe Biden announced Uganda and three other countries would be dropped from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).

The US had previously said it might take such action after Uganda passed a tough new anti-homosexuality law.

On Sunday, President Yoweri Museveni urged Ugandans “not to be over-concerned”.

“Some of these actors in the Western world overestimate themselves and underestimate the freedom fighters of Africa,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.

Agoa, introduced in 2000, gives eligible sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the US for more than 1,800 products.

Under this deal, Uganda has been exporting goods, like coffee and textiles, to the United States for years without paying any import tax.

However, the US is not one of Uganda’s main export markets so the expulsion is unlikely to cause too much economic distress.

Ahead of the 20th Agoa forum in South Africa, Mr Biden revealed plans to expel Uganda, Gabon, Niger and the Central African Republic (CAR).

He said that the removal of the CAR and Uganda from the programme was due to “gross violations of internationally recognised human rights” by their governments. The CAR is working closely with mercenaries from the Russian Wagner group, who have been accused of killing civilians and other abuses.

Niger and Gabon – both of which are currently under military rule following coups – are ineligible for Agoa because they “have not established, or are not making continual progress toward establishing the protection of political pluralism and the rule of law”, the president said.

In May, the US warned it was considering removing Uganda from Agoa after its tough new anti-homosexuality law was passed.

The law, which imposes a death penalty on people found guilty of engaging in certain same-sex acts, has faced global criticism.

In his statement on Sunday, President Yoweri Museveni continued: “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 warned that Ugandan farmers and small business owners would be hit hard by the expulsion.

The expulsion from Agoa is set to take effect from the start of next year.

In August, the World Bank announced it was suspending new loans to Uganda following the anti-homosexuality bill, while last month the US State Department warned about the risk of doing business there.

Mr Museveni has accused the World Bank of using money to try to “coerce” the government to drop the controversial legislation.

Additional reporting by BBC World Service Editor Will Ross

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