EIC: U.S. Decision to Suspend Ethiopia from AGOA ‘Regrettable & Disappointing’

ADDIS ABABA – United States government decision to suspend Ethiopia from Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is very disappointing and regrettable in many ways, said Ethiopian Investment Commission on Thursday.

The commission said the decision is against the U.S. core principles of human and labor rights.

It also “primarily endangers the human rights of hundreds of thousands of the vulnerable as well as discourages investors,” said the investment commission.

Earlier this week, Joe Biden’s administration ended Ethiopia’s eligibility AGOA over politics, putting the job of at least 200,000 workers at risk.

The decision came days after its envoy in Addis Ababa, Geeta Pasi, said U.S. support for continued partnership with Ethiopia after speaking worker in Hawass Industrial Park.

“Although AGOA augured a new beginning in the US and Africa economic cooperation and made Africa an attractive destination for efficiency-seeking FDIs, create productive and decent jobs, encourage value addition, and diversify their export structure, the delisting of Ethiopia from the beneficiary list refutes its core objectives,” the commission said.

The trade deal gave Ethiopia the opportunity to export half of its manufactured products and enabled the country to increase its export by ten folds between 2000, when the initiative started, and 2020.

Over the past decade, the East African nation has spent billions constructing a dozen industrial parks and related infrastructure, targeting the US market through AGOA.

The initiative gave hundreds of thousands of job opportunities directly and indirectly, especially on the production of apparel of which over 8 percent of workers are the vulnerable rural migrant young women, according to the Commission.

“Through the job opportunities in the industrial parks, these young women were able to acquire skills, develop confidence and earn income, which enable them to support themselves and their families,” it said, “not to mention, … thousands of small-scale businesses that are benefited from service provision within the industrial parks”.

The decision will primarily endanger the human rights of hundreds of thousands of the vulnerable, young, and low educated women workers, who solely depend on their job for self-development and life opportunities, the Commission added.

“We, hence, believe that this is a sufficient reason for the US government to reconsider its decision as soon as possible,” it said.

The decision severely jeopardizes the motivation and scale of operation of companies that invest targeting to benefit from AGOA, according to the Commission.   

Featured Image: Workers, mostly women, going into an apparel factory located inside Hawassa Industrial park [Photo File]