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Ouagadougou Out of AGOA

The United States has dropped Burkina Faso from its trade preference programme citing deep concerns over “unconstitutional change” in government in the West African country, the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office said on Sunday. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) provides sub-Saharan African nations with duty-free access to the US if they meet specific eligibility requirements, including making progress towards political pluralism. The USTR’s office said Burkina Faso had failed to meet the requirements of the AGOA statute and would be given “clear benchmarks” for a pathway towards reinstatement to the trade programme, adding that Washington would work with Ouagadougou. On Monday, the Burkinabe Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted to the decision by repeating a November statement saying the timetable for a return to democracy had not changed. Burkina Faso had committed to returning to constitutional rule in 24 months in a July agreement with the West African regional bloc ECOWAS.