U.S. DROPS GAMBIA FROM AGOA Gambia Gov’t reacts

The United States will drop The Gambia from a duty-free tradeObama and Jammeh
programme as of 1 January 2015, according to a presidential
proclamation on Tuesday, 23 December 2015 that said the country is not
making continual progress in meeting the requirements described in
section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 [Trade] Act.“Pursuant to section 506A(a)(3) of the 1974 Act, I have determined
that South Sudan and The Gambia are not making continual progress in
meeting the requirements described in section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974
Act. Accordingly, I have decided to terminate the designation of South
Sudan and The Gambia as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries for
purposes of section 506A of the 1974 Act, effective on January 1,
2015,” the US President proclaimed.
But President Barack Obama said Guinea-Bissau (which was removed from
eligibility) would be reinstated to a 14-year-old trade program giving
African countries duty-free access to U.S. markets, known as the
African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
On January 1, 2003 The Gambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo
were designated as the 37th and 38th AGOA eligible countries. No
specific reason was pinpointed in the proclamation for Gambia’s
removal from eligibility. However, according to the US Department of
State website, “The Act authorizes the President to designate
countries as eligible to receive the benefits of AGOA if they are
determined to have established, or are making continual progress
toward establishing the following: market-based economies; the rule of
law and political pluralism; elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and
investment; protection of intellectual property; efforts to combat
corruption; policies to reduce poverty, increasing availability of
health care and educational opportunities; protection of human rights
and worker rights; and elimination of certain child labor practices.”
The U.S. National Security Council has voiced concern over Gambia’s
moves to block access to UN human rights investigators and enact new
laws against homosexuality.
Furthermore, in June this year, the US Embassy issued a statement
expressing concern about two U.S. citizens Alhaji Ceesay and Ebrima
Jobe who had gone missing in The Gambia, pointing out that the
protection and safety of U.S. citizens overseas remains the highest
importance to the State Department.
GAMBIA GOVERNMENT REACTION
The Government of The Gambia has released a media dispatch in reaction
to the US Government’s announcement that it has been removed from the list
of eligible sub-Saharan African countries under AGOA.
The release, aired on GRTS television, states that the Government of
the republic of The Gambia congratulates the Government of the United
States of America for the removal of The Gambia from the list of
eligible sub-Saharan African countries under the African Growth and
Opportunity Act and which Act, it added, Gambia never benefitted from
in the first place.
The release further noted that in light of the interview in the local
media made by the Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Banjul, it
has now become unequivocally clear to the Government of the republic
of The Gambia that the Government of the United States of America has
no good intentions for the people of the Gambia.
It concluded that with unshakeable faith in the almighty Allah alone,
it should clear that dignified people of the Gambia will not succumb
to outside pressure of any kind nor from any source and that the well
being of the people will remain paramount for the Government of the
Gambia.