Government officials in Uganda are actively engaging in frequent meetings to address concerns related to Ugandan businessmen trading in the American market. The discussions aim to secure a position in the AGOA market, initiated by the United States. This initiative follows President Robert Joe Biden Jr.’s announcement that Uganda might be excluded from the AGOA market due to perceived violations of people’s freedom and continuous harassment.
During the meeting in South Africa about AGOA, representatives from Uganda spoke up, requesting the American government not to exclude Uganda from the market.
After the USA officially announced the exclusion of Uganda from the AGOA market, several African nations have been leveraging this platform for exporting their products to Europe. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), initiated in 2000 during Bill Clinton’s presidency, was designed to boost the economies of African countries, encompassing 36 nations on the continent.
This market includes over 1800 products such as clothing, avocados, coffee, fish, bananas, watermelon, pineapples, and more. Some African countries in this market are Angola, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Nigeria, and Uganda. Uganda is at risk of being removed from the market by January 1st of next year, as mentioned by the President of the United States, Joe Biden.
Uganda is facing potential exclusion from the American market due to alleged human rights violations. The U.S. claims that despite numerous meetings, Uganda has not established a peaceful leadership.
The accusations include violations of freedom of speech and suppression. If the U.S. decides to exclude Uganda, over 50 registered companies could lose trading opportunities, resulting in a yearly loss of US$200 million.
Uganda is not alone in facing market exclusion; Niger, Gabon, and the Central African Republic are also under scrutiny. Many popular clothing items in Uganda, mainly from the USA, China, and Dubai, could be affected. Despite the potential impact on the economy, President Yoweri Museveni has expressed plans to ban second-hand clothes, referring to them as “clothes of the dead.”
Museveni, during a recent event in Mbale, assured Ugandans that the government has development plans in place. He mentioned a decrease in inflation from 10% to 2%, one of the lowest globally, as a sign of progress.
The Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija, acknowledged the efforts to restore relations with the USA, calming concerns among traders. Kasaija emphasized that the government is addressing the situation, and traders should continue their work, assuring them that the Ministry of Finance is managing the country’s economy. Despite challenges, there is optimism that the situation will improve over time.