Bekele says its high time Ethiopia is reinstated to AGOA benefit / Photo: AFP

Ethiopian ambassador to the United States Seleshi Bekele has met with the officials of the US Trade Representative for Africa, in a bid to return to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

“It is high time Ethiopia is reinstated to AGOA benefit and help increase investment,” Sileshi has said in a tweet, “we hope the next review brings expected reinstatement”.

The AGOA provides access to eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access to the US market for over 6500 products, including clothing, footwear and a range of agricultural goods.

Last year, the US banned Ethiopia’s access to duty-free due to its “gross violations of internationally recognised human rights being perpetrated by Ethiopia and other parties” amid the widening conflict in the north of the country.

The Tigray War in Ethiopia lasted from 3 November 2020 to 3 November 2022. The war was primarily fought in the Tigray Region of the county between the Ethiopian federal government and Eritrea on one side, and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) on the other.

The government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the former rebel faction, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front signed a peace agreement in November 2022 to end the war.

Statistics from the US Trade Representative for Africa shows that the United States imported goods worth $572 million from Ethiopia in 2019. This was an increase of $127 million from 2018.

The US suspended Mali and Guinea as well from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in the past few months. Cameroon which was also suspended in 2019 said this week that it has restarted talks with the US to rejoin the trade initiative.

Last month, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Ethiopia's prime minister and foreign minister in Addis Ababa.

His trip was part of a series of visits to Africa by senior US officials, as the Biden administration looks to reinforce ties with the continent amid competition from China.

Last year, Ethiopia's state finance minister said that the Tigray war was partly causing delays in securing an International Monetary Fund loan, and now Ethiopia is trying to restructure its debt.

Although a peace deal has allowed humanitarian aid to reach Tigray, the needs of the region are still significant, as the conflict caused many to face starvation.

Humanitarian workers and rights groups in the area have reported ongoing allegations of abuse, particularly sexual violence, even after the peace deal was signed.

TRT Afrika