| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

Biden pulling Ethiopia from trade program over Tigray conflict

US President Joe Biden moved to revoke Ethiopia’s status in a key trade program Tuesday for its continued offensive against Tigray rebels.
Biden said he is ending Addis Ababa’s involvement in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) due to “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” as he also pulled Guinea, and Mali from the program.
“Despite intensive engagement between the United States and the Governments of Ethiopia, Guinea, and Mali, these governments have failed to address United States concerns about their non-compliance with the AGOA eligibility criteria,” the president wrote in a letter notifying Congress of his actions.
The program allows eligible countries duty-free access to the US market for more than 1,800 products under the condition that they meet established criteria, including moving toward a market-based economy and making progress on rule of law and combatting corruption.
The termination will take effect Jan. 1, but Biden said he “will continue to assess whether the Governments of Ethiopia, Guinea, and Mali are making continual progress toward meeting the AGOA eligibility requirements.”
The US president has warned he will impose sanctions on all parties to the conflict in Ethiopia unless they turn to negotiations to resolve hostilities peacefully and his action on Tuesday appears to fall short of that vow.
The Ethiopian government alleged in November 2020 that the Tigray People’s Liberation Forces (TPLF) raided a key military installation in the country’s north, killing soldiers and looting sizable military hardware. The following day, the government launched what it said was a sweeping law enforcement operation against the group’s leaders that has led to continuing hostilities against Tigray rebels.
The conflict has crippled humanitarian access for nearly half a million people facing famine-like conditions in the Tigray region. The UN has warned that Ethiopian government bombardments, fighting and fuel shortages are affecting the ability of aid partners to distribute aid in the region.
Aid deliveries have ground to a halt in areas where stocks of food and other relief items have been depleted.
According to the UN, 2 million people have been internally displaced and thousands have died in the war.