(Bloomberg) --

The humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia’s northern region could affect Ethiopia’s eligibility to export goods to the U.S. under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, according to the U.S. Trade Representative.

Ethiopia exported goods worth $239 million to the U.S. in 2019 under AGOA, which was more than 40% of its total shipments to the U.S. By June 2021, Ethiopia had exported $128.7 million of goods under the program, consisting of apparel and leather products. 

In a virtual meeting with Ethiopian Chief Trade Negotiator Mamo Mihretu, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai raised the issue of human rights violations in the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia, which she said  “could affect Ethiopia’s future AGOA eligibility if unaddressed,” according to a statement.

Mamo did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

Thirty eight African countries were eligible for duty-free access to the U.S. market in 2020 under AGOA, which is due to expire in 2025. The USTR is conducting an annual review of which sub-Saharan African nations remain eligible. “If warranted, Ambassador Tai will recommend that the president add or remove certain countries from AGOA beneficiary country status,” the office said in response to questions.

In May, the U.S. imposed visa restrictions and economic sanctions on some government and military officials from Ethiopia and Eritrea. Earlier this week, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned the Eritrean army’s chief of staff for his involvement in the Ethiopian conflict and warned it would “take action against those involved in serious human rights abuse around the world, including in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.”

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