The Ugandan business community is scratching heads and scrambling for answers after being unceremoniously booted off the coveted American Trade Deal, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The decision to remove the East African nation from the list of countries exporting their goods to the American market duty-free, came to effect on 1 January, 2024 after being announced 6 months prior.

Prominent international relations analyst and Ugandan-born activist, Dr. David Nyekorach-Matsanga, recently penned a scathing letter to Mr. Brad Brooks-Rubin, Senior Adviser at the U.S. Department of State, demanding clarification on Uganda’s sudden ousting from AGOA. In the missive, Dr. Nyekorach-Matsanga expressed Uganda’s dismay at being singled out together with 3 other West-African States, stripped of its AGOA privileges, and relegated to the list of unfriendly, if not, rogue states!

“We notice that your sanctions are also targeting our institutions and heads of those institutions which govern the State of Uganda. It is against the international human rights to target, profile others without basis, lamented the perplexed Ugandan international lawyer. Dr. Matsanga hinted at rallying other African nations to challenge what he perceives as America’s

double standards and selective foreign policies. “We’ll take this all the way to the International Court of Justice if we have to,” declared the defiant Ugandan activist.

Speculation runs rife in Uganda and beyond about the motives behind this drastic action. Some linked the country’s suspension from the trade deal to the recent enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act through the Parliament of Uganda, a move which critics from the American proponents for LGBTQ rights regarded as a sign that Uganda had backslid on her commitment to protect human and civil rights.

Whatever the cause for Human Rights, one wonders if it warrants the cancellation of a trade deal that gained acclaim for supporting greater economic enfranchisement for women; strengthening the trade capacity of smallholder women farmers and entrepreneurs.

Others believe it’s retaliation within the context of geopolitical realignments. Speculation surrounds Uganda’s divergence from its commitment to be in solidarity with its partner by supporting Russia, China and Palestine during recent crisis. A scenario which Matsanga remarked as a “direct assault on the nation’s sovereignty”. Some representatives of Ugandan companies who were beneficiaries of the trade deal also took to social media to reaffirm ties of the Ugandan business community with their US-counterparts “We speak English; we don’t speak Chinese or Russian,” sighed  bemused Presidential Trade Advisor, Odrek Rwabwogo in an interview.

Source: Standard Media

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