NAIROBI, Kenya – (AP) – Ethiopia says it is unhappy with the United States’ decision to revoke duty-free access for exports from that East African country.
The Ethiopian Commerce Ministry’s statement came on Monday after the Biden administration on December 23 ended Ethiopia’s eligibility for the benefits of the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act. The United States has cited its disapproval of the war in the Tigray region for action.
“The Ethiopian government is saddened by the United States’ decision to suppress it,” the ministry said. He called on the United States to reconsider their decision.
“Ethiopia is leading various initiatives aimed at bringing peace and stability, political consensus and economic development, in addition to carrying out reforms in line with the long-standing relationship between the two countries,” the statement said.
The United States has suspended Ethiopia’s eligibility for trade benefits despite calls from a few U.S. lawmakers and Ethiopian lobby groups who have called on the Biden administration to give the country more time to comply with U.S. demands .
The decision against the African nation was taken for its failure to end a nearly yearlong war in the Tigray region which has led to “gross violations” of human rights, according to Biden’s statement. . The action also prevents Guinea and Mali from enjoying trade benefits from January 1.
The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act provides sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the United States provided they meet certain conditions, including the removal of barriers to U.S. trade and investment and the advancement towards political pluralism.
The United States and the United Nations say Ethiopian authorities have blocked trucks from delivering food and other desperately needed aid to Tigray. Dozens of people have starved to death, the Associated Press reported.
In September, Biden warned his administration would impose sanctions if Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed did not take action to end the war in Tigray and other areas.
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry on November 3 called the move “misguided” and “unwarranted intimidation” and said the move could affect the livelihoods of more than 200,000 low-income Ethiopians who work for enterprises benefiting from preferential trade access.
Some Ethiopian companies are already showing signs of slowing down their export activities.
“Several companies have already started to leave and we don’t know what the next step is,” a textile worker told the AP by telephone in the Hawassa industrial park, some 270 kilometers (168 miles) south of the capital, Addis Ababa. anonymity fearing for his safety at work.
Ethiopia had one of Africa’s most dynamic economies in recent years, but the Tigray War dampened that momentum.
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