African nation unbothered by expulsion from US trade program

Lazy eyes listen


President Yoweri Museveni said on Sunday that Uganda can meet its growth targets without the help of Western countries, dismissing Washington’s decision to kick the African country out of a flagship trade programme.

“I urge you not to be overly concerned by the recent actions of the American government in discouraging their companies from investing in Uganda and removing Uganda from the AGOA [African Growth and Opportunity Act] list,” Museveni said in a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter).

Uganda has been exporting goods to the United States for many years, including coffee and textiles, under the AGOA agreement, which went into effect in 2000. More than 1,800 products from qualified Sub-Saharan African countries are duty-free in the US market under the programme. It is set to expire in September 2025, and its renewal was not announced as expected at the recent forum in South Africa.

Last week, US Vice President Joe Biden announced his intention to withdraw the East African country from AGOA, as well as the Central African Republic (CAR), Gabon, and Niger, citing “gross violations” of participation requirements.

Biden had previously threatened to consider the ramifications of an anti-LGBTQ law passed by the Ugandan government in a review.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023, which makes “aggravated homosexuality” a capital offence and imposes penalties of up to life in prison for consensual same-sex relationships, has been widely criticised and has led to sanctions against the African country.

In August, the World Bank halted new funding for Uganda, claiming that the anti-gay law violated the World Bank’s values of “inclusion and non-discrimination.” The decision came after the US State Department imposed visa restrictions on Ugandan officials in June, threatening those responsible for violating human rights in the African country, including those of LGBTQ people, with repercussions.

Ugandan officials have accused the World Bank of hypocrisy, with President Museveni claiming that the sanction was intended to force his country to abandon its principles and sovereignty.

Biden’s most recent punishment, the withdrawal of Uganda from the AGOA programme in January of next year, has been linked to US efforts to pressure the African country to repeal anti-homosexuality legislation.

On Sunday, Museveni told Ugandans not to worry about Washington’s decision, emphasising his government’s preference for working with foreign partners who respect the country.

“Some of these Western actors overestimate themselves while underestimating African freedom fighters… Some foreign actors mistakenly believe that African countries cannot progress without their assistance,” he wrote on X.