By John Ikani
The Government of Ethiopia has expressed displeasure over moves by the United States to withdraw a deal for duty-free exports to the US, stressing that it is “extremely disappointing.”
“We are extremely disappointed by the threat of AGOA [African Growth and Opportunities Act] withdrawal currently under consideration by the US Government,” the Ethiopian Ministry of Trade said on Tuesday.
The decision for the US to suspend the duty-free rights under the trade pact it entered with Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea was not unconnected to human rights abuse and democracy concerns.
In a letter to the US Congress on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden cited Ethiopia as being in “gross violations of internationally recognised human rights”.
A conflict between the Government of Ethiopia and forces in its northern Tigray region has thrown the country into turmoil.
Power struggle, an election and a push for political reform are among several factors that led to the crisis.
Fighting has been going on since November 2020, destabilising the populous country in the Horn of Africa, leaving thousands of people dead with 350,000 others living in famine conditions.
Eritrean soldiers are also fighting in Tigray for the Ethiopian Government. All sides have been accused of atrocities.
Ethiopian Trade Ministry said the decision must be reversed by 1 January next year.
“We urge the United States to support our ongoing efforts to restore peace and the rule of law – not punish our people for confronting an insurgent force,” the Ministry said.
“The Ethiopian Government takes all human rights allegations seriously: we are looking at them and conducting investigations and we are committed to ensuring accountability,” it added.