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Burkina Faso dropped from US duty-free trade programme

  Burkina Faso has been removed from the United States trade preference programme, the office of the United States Trade Representative (UST...

 


Burkina Faso has been removed from the United States trade preference programme, the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced on Sunday, expressing serious concerns over an “unconstitutional change” in government in the West African country.


Two military coups occurred in Burkina Faso that year due to citizens’ dissatisfaction with the government’s ineffectiveness in preventing the activities of armed organisations. The former and present military governments have made steps to increase security, but attacks have persisted.


Duty-free access to the United States is available to some sub-Saharan African countries under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), provided that they meet specific qualifying standards.


Washington will cooperate with Ouagadougou to help Burkina Faso get back into the trade programme after it was suspended for failing to meet AGOA rules, according to the USTR’s office.


The Burkinabe Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the decision on Monday by reiterating a November statement claiming that the transition timeline back to democracy had not changed.



In an agreement with the West African bloc ECOWAS reached in July, Burkina Faso pledged to restore constitutional authority within 24 months.


Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is currently amid a conflict in which armed factions linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) have massacred thousands of civilians and triggered one of the continent’s fastest-growing humanitarian catastrophes.


About two million displaced individuals live in improvised camps across the dry landscape. Many of these sites are administered by the United Nations.


For the past seven years, the worst conflict has been in the north and east, where it has stifled economic growth, contributed to widespread food insecurity, and hindered the ability of relief organisations to reach those in need.


The military administration of Burkina Faso requested that a high-ranking United Nations official leave the country shortly before Christmas. Because “the theory of persona non grata does not apply to United Nations personnel,” the UN fought the ruling.


The administration did not explain at the time, but the foreign minister has accused the official, Barbara Manzi, of exaggerating threats to national security.

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