Madagascar, Guinea & Niger trade benefits stopped
US President Barack Obama has stopped Madagascar, Guinea and Niger from receiving trade benefits for a year. Mr Obama said that each of these countries “have experienced an undemocratic transfer of power” and that they had failed to make “continual progress” in meeting US requirements for The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. The Act was set up in 2000 ostensibly to offer tangible benefits including job creation for African countries who must adapt their economies to the free market.
The Act requires countries to show they are working towards, among other things, introducing the rule of law and political pluralism, the elimination of barriers to US trade and investment and efforts to combat corruption. However, Mauritania was re-instated to the programme. A coup took place in Mauritania last year, but an election was held his year that, although it returned the coup leader Gen Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz to power, was deemed by observers to be transparent.
Those favoring the African Growth and Opportunity Act bill see it as presenting a new opportunity for Africa in private sector trade and investment. Supporters also argued that the bill expands eligibility of African countries, increase women’s input in growth and development, and promote democracy and good governance within sub-Saharan Africa. Those opposing it cite lack of consultation with African civil society, inadequate support for debt relief initiatives, potential disruption of regional integration, and unrealistic or ill-advised eligibility standards.