US extends Madagascar trade exclusion, citing rights concerns
The United States will not restore trade privileges to Madagascar this year, according to a statement received Saturday that cited human rights concerns and the failure to restore democracy in the Indian Ocean nation.
Madagascar has been excluded from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) programme since 2009 when then president Marc Ravalomanana was overthrown in a coup that left Andry Rajoelina in charge of a transitional, non-elected government.
"We continue to be alarmed by the current regime's lack of respect for some of the most universally accepted principles," said US embassy charge d'affaires Eric Wong.
"Reports by the United Nations and other respected international organisations have highlighted the degree to which the human rights situation in Madagascar has continued to deteriorate."
Wong cited restrictions on journalists, detentions of political enemies and attacks on civilians as examples.
"Madagascar's continued failure to restore democracy, uphold internationally recognised human rights treaties, and to address serious violations of the rule of law has resulted in President Barack Obama's decision not to restore the country's eligibility for benefits under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for 2013," the embassy statement said.
Madagascar had previously been a beneficiary of the programme, which had since 2001 allowed it to develop its textile industry.
In 2009, the sector made up 42 percent of exports from the Indian Ocean area, but this share fell to less than 10 percent in 2010, according to World Bank figures.
AGOA, signed into law in 2000, offers incentives for sub-Saharan African nations to develop free markets, open economies and accountable political systems.
It allows preferential access to imports from concerned countries and access to US credit and expertise.
The benefits under the programme are assessed annually.