Museveni writes to Biden over AGOA

KAMPALA, December 5, 2023 – President Yoweri Museveni yesterday held discussions with the Ambassador of the United States of America to Uganda, William W. Popp at State House Entebbe.

During the meeting, Museveni and Popp discussed a wide range of topics including the African Growth and Opportunity Act [AGOA] that has seen some selected African countries export their products to the U.S. duty-free

Museveni also sent a special message to President Joe Biden. The letter was handed to Ambassador Popp who will deliver it to the US leader.

“H.E. President Biden wrote to me about AGOA, so I have answered him. You will deliver the letter to him,” the President said.

On his part, Ambassador Popp reiterated the US government’s commitment to continue cooperating with Uganda through improved bilateral relations.

“We want to continue conducting business with Uganda as a whole through different projects. These projects could be worked on without any restrictions,” he noted.

In late October 2023, President Biden wrote to the United States Senate expressing his intent to terminate Ugandan exports to his country through AGOA over allegations of human rights violations, even though this is refuted by the Ugandan government.

Biden accused Uganda and other African countries like Gabon, Niger, and the Central African Republic of human rights violations, threatening that the termination would be effective in January 2024.

He stated: In accordance with section 506A9(a)(3)(B)), I am providing advance notification of my intent to terminate the designation of the Central African Republic, The Gabonese Republic (Gabon), Niger and the Republic of Uganda (Uganda) as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries under the African Growth and Opportunity Act [AGOA].”

With the enactment of AGOA over two decades ago, Uganda’s Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises [MSMEs] have found a golden opportunity to tap into the expansive American market. This legislation has granted around 6,500 goods from sub-Saharan African countries, including Uganda, preferential access to the US market, duty-free.

AGOA is set to expire in September 2025. There’s a growing call to extend this legislation beyond 2025 to at least 2035.

Over the past three years, Uganda’s AGOA exports have demonstrated impressive growth, despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Coffee, crafts, vanilla, chocolate, tea, textiles, and dried fruits have been making their mark in the US market. In 2018/19, Uganda’s exports were valued at US$ 1 million; by 2021, they rose to US$ 5.1mln.

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