On Tuesday U.S Embassy announced a donation of 1,552,590 Doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine to Ethiopia. On the same day, the U.S government suspended Ethiopia from the African Growth and Opportunity Act , a trading arrangement that provides African countries with tax free access to the UN market for certain products.
The decision is based on allegations of Human Rights violation in connection with the war in the northern part of the country.
Ethiopians have been criticizing the U.S. stance about the conflict and its silence about rights violations by the TIgray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Many Ethiopians tend to believe that the United States has been supporting TPLF fighters militarily under the guise of humanitarian operation.
Suspension of Ethiopia from AGOA has added impetus to ongoing condemnation of the U.S government as it relates to the conflict in Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian government on Wednesday issued a statement saying that the U.S. concern over human rights issues in Ethiopia should not warrant suspension of Ethiopia from AGOA.
The full statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia reads as follows :
“Statement on the Suspension of Ethiopia from #AGOA Eligibility
The Government of Ethiopia understands the human rights concerns of the United States Government over the ongoing conflict in northern Ethiopia. We believe that such concerns over human rights issues do not warrant the decision of the US to suspend Ethiopia’s privileges over the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The decision is misguided and fails to take into account the commitment of the Government of the United States to value the wellbeing of ordinary citizens.
Removing the preferential agreement will affect the livelihoods of more than 200.000 low-income families, mostly, women who have got nothing to do with the conflict. It will also considerably impair the lives of one million people who engage in the supply chain ecosystem.
What Ethiopians expect from the International community, and the US, in particular, at this time is an unbiased assessment of the critical situation and supply of the much-needed humanitarian support to affected people. Unjustified intimidation to jeopardize the economic livelihoods of innocent citizens, which we believe is propelled by the enemies of Ethiopia behind the scenes, will not give a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
The Government of Ethiopia is deeply dismayed by the failure of the United States to properly acknowledge efforts made to address concerns on both the humanitarian aid and human rights issues in connection with the conflict. Reducing security checkpoints from 7 to 2, among others, has shown our commitment to address the concerns of the International Community over some bureaucratic hurdles. The Federal Government also supported the joint investigation by the UN Human Rights Office and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into alleged violations of human rights committed in Tigray. The Government of Ethiopia has also been supportive of investigations over the issue by independent domestic institutions. Accordingly, punitive measures were taken over perpetrators of atrocities.
The time calls for concerted efforts from all responsible bodies, both in Ethiopia and abroad, to mitigate the unprecedented challenges posed by the actions of the TPLF. Removing the duty-free arrangement will, by no means, ease up the problem. We, therefore, urge the United States Government to reverse its decision that may only embolden the terrorist group while endangering the aspirations of Ethiopians to extricate themselves out of poverty.
Office of the Spokesperson
03 November 2021”
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This banning is not the end of the world for those industries exporting goods to the USA. They are Not forbidden to enter this country but the tax free privilege is on hold for now. You have to look at the HSN code of each product to see which ones carry the highest import taxes. Without the tax free privilege there are a lot of products that are always duty free and there are plenty others that have very low tariffs on them. Honestly it will hit the pockets of the owners which will translate into austere measures by them. I am quite sure there could be wiggling room in the owners coffers to be able to ‘lick their chops’ and let those machines keep humming. Above all this banning is temporary anyway. Let’s hope that the government there will not do something senseless and not bright that will raise the ire of the West which could lead to slapping punitive very high tariffs and even total banning. For now our economics experts can look into the products involved and shed some lights on the impacts from this ban. For example leather in tanned quality carries a 10% import tax. I suspect there should be a room for absorption here. Some of us should refrain aggravating the situation from our comfy homes here. After recollecting myself I said ‘Wait a minute! This is not the end of the world’.