U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai addresses the Geneva Graduate Institute about the role of the World Trade Organization WTO in the global economy and U.S. policy priorities ahead of the 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland October 14, 2021. GENEVA, Oct 14 Reuters - Katherine Tai, U.S. Global Trade Representative, said Washington will soon decide on Ethiopia's status under the African Growth and Opportunity Act AGOA an agreement that gives it duty-free access to the United States.
What is happening in Tigray is a humanitarian crisis, says Tai, referring to fighting in northern Ethiopia and a deepening famine in the region of Ethiopia.
The United States exported about $237 million worth of goods under AGOA to Ethiopia in 2020, according to U.S commerce department data.
In August, her office issued a statement saying ongoing violations of internationally recognised human rights amid ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia could affect Ethiopia's future African Growth and Opportunity Act eligibility if unaddressed. Any suspension would deal a major blow to the Ethiopian economy, which is already under immense pressure by the Coronavirus Pandemic, the 11-month conflict and inflation of nearly 35%.
Billene Seyoum, the prime minister spokeswoman, sent a text message to Reuters saying: No one is more committed than the Government of Ethiopia to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions with urgency. Humanitarian crises don't end by taking jobs from low income women that AGOA enabled; rather the problem deepens. This week, the Minister of State announced that the suspension would take away 1 million jobs from the nation of 109 million people.
AGOA gives sub-Saharan African nations tax-free access to the United States if they meet certain eligibility requirements, such as eliminating barriers to U.S. trade and investment and making progress towards political pluralism.