KAMPALA, Nov 1 (Reuters) – Uganda on Wednesday criticised a U.S. move to eject it and other African countries from accessing a tariff-free trade programme, saying the action was to punish African countries that are resisting the imposition of the West’s cultural values.
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday that he intended to end the participation of Uganda, Gabon, Niger and the Central African Republic in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade program.
Uganda and Central Africa Republic would be blocked because of “gross violations” of internationally recognised human rights, Biden said in a letter to the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Odrek Rwabwogo, special presidential adviser to President Yoweri Museveni, said that with the trade move the U.S. was telling Ugandans that “their already slim prospects for economic prosperity are contingent on whether they vote in line with the values of whoever happens to hold high office in the U.S., not their own”.
Ugandan government officials have linked the move to attempts by the United States to press Uganda to quash an anti-homosexuality law that was passed by parliament in May.
Under the law, same-sex intercourse attracts a life sentence while so called aggravated homosexuality is punished by death.
Launched in 2000, AGOA grants exports from qualifying countries duty-free access to the U.S. market.
“The AGOA programme was established in order to promote economic growth, good governance and free markets in Africa. It is a policy … to bind Africa and the U.S. in partnership and respect,” Rwabwogo said in his statement.
“It was not established as a stick to beat the populace of African countries who vote in a way that offends the social sensibilities of the developed West. Yet that is how it is being used now.”