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The United States Demands Uganda to Repeal Anti-Gay Law or Risk Losing AGOA Trade Benefits

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The United States government, through President Biden, has called on Uganda to repeal its Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) to retain its eligibility for African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade benefits. The U.S. Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, communicated this message in a letter to Uganda’s Minister of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives, Francis Mwebesa. Failure to repeal the law will lead to the termination of AGOA benefits for Uganda, effective January 1, 2024.

Tai highlighted that Uganda could maintain AGOA eligibility by publicly releasing a human rights action plan and revoking the Anti-Homosexuality Act. The law, purportedly aimed at protecting traditional African marriage systems and cultural values, has faced criticism as it threatens LGBTQI+ rights and creates an inhospitable environment for individuals affected.

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The U.S. government has long expressed concern over human rights in Uganda and continues to pressure the country to address these issues. The potential loss of AGOA benefits could primarily impact local entrepreneurs, as the trade between Uganda and the U.S. under AGOA is valued at millions of dollars, significantly less compared to exports to neighboring countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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If Uganda fails to repeal the Anti-Homosexuality Act, the U.S. will provide a list of benchmarks to restore AGOA benefits. Along with Uganda, other countries at risk of losing AGOA eligibility are the Central African Republic, Gabon, and Niger.

U.S. trade records reveal that goods exports and imports to Uganda increased significantly in recent years, but the trade balance has shifted from a surplus to a deficit. Additionally, U.S. foreign direct investment in Uganda saw a notable rise in 2022.

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