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Beyer Asks USTR to Reevaluate Ethiopia's Eligibility for AGOA

House Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., asked U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to consider doing an out-of-cycle review on Ethiopia's eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act preferences program. Ethiopia lost its eligibility at the beginning of 2022 (see 2111020035) because the U.S. said its government was violating human rights as it tried to quell a rebellion in the Tigray region. Ethiopia was exporting more than $100 million annually of apparel and textiles to the U.S. before it was ousted from AGOA.

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The American Apparel and Footwear Association asked back in June that Ethiopia be restored as quickly as possible once it complied with the progress the U.S. wanted to see (see 2206290056).

Beyer noted the recent ceasefire in the civil conflict in a tweet, and shared his Nov. 18 letter to the USTR, which noted that thousands of factory workers have lost their jobs since AGOA treatment was terminated: "Pushing the nation deeper into poverty by continuing to exclude them from AGOA could further destabilize the country and severely weaken the U.S.-Ethiopia relationship," he wrote. He asked that the standards the USTR is asking Ethiopia to meet to regain its AGOA eligiblity not go beyond what is in the statute.

A spokesperson from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Nov. 22 that the annual AGOA eligibility review is underway now "and so we are not in a position to consider any out-of-cycle reviews until after the annual eligibility review concludes." However, the spokesperson said, "we continue to closely track developments in Ethiopia."