Kampala – President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has watered down concerns over the expulsion of Uganda from a special US-Africa trade program.
Last week, United States of America president Joe Biden said Uganda and three other African countries would be removed from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) citing Uganda’s violations of internationally recognised human rights.
But president Museveni on Sunday in a rebuttal criticised the US, saying they overestimate themselves and erroneously think that African countries cannot move forward without their support.
“Some of these actors in the Western world overestimate themselves and underestimate the freedom fighters of Africa,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.
America is the latest to take action against Uganda which in May 2023 passed a controversial anti-homosexuality law that includes a death penalty for certain same sex acts. The law prompted the World Bank to withdraw Uganda’s funding but president Museveni doubled down accusing the organisation of coercing his country to reverse the law.
Museveni also stated that Uganda could still develop without the support from the World Bank. He however hailed the Biden-led administration for maintaining funding for HIV/AIDS drugs but added that Uganda had a contingency plan to acquire the drugs if foreign donors pulled out.
AGOA, introduced in 2000, gives eligible sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the US for more than 1,800 products.
Under this deal, Uganda has been exporting goods, like coffee and textiles, to the United States for years without paying any import tax.
However, the US is not one of Uganda’s main export markets so the expulsion is unlikely to cause too much economic distress.
Ahead of the 20th AGOA forum in South Africa, president Biden revealed plans to expel Uganda, Gabon, Niger and the Central African Republic (CAR).
He said that the removal of the CAR and Uganda from the programme was due to “gross violations of internationally recognised human rights” by their governments. The CAR is working closely with mercenaries from the Russian Wagner group, who have been accused of killing civilians and other abuses.
Niger and Gabon – both of which are currently under military rule following coups – are ineligible for AGOA because they “have not established, or are not making continual progress toward establishing the protection of political pluralism and the rule of law”, the president said.
In May, the US warned it was considering removing Uganda from AGOA after its tough new anti-homosexuality law was passed.