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Washington, D.C. – House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) released the following statement as the Biden Administration reviews country eligibility for trade benefits laid out in the African Growth and Opportunity (AGOA) Act. 

“AGOA trade benefits have been a strong component of job creation in Ethiopia, and the U.S.-Ethiopia bilateral trade relationship has generated economic benefit for both countries since 2000. However, we are deeply concerned by credible reports of gross violations of human rights committed by Ethiopian security forces, as well as Eritrean defense forces, Amhara regional forces, and the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front. Despite consistent calls for a cessation of hostilities by the international community, the fighting has intensified and the gross human rights violations continue unabated.

“The AGOA statute clearly states that any country responsible for committing gross violations of human rights shall lose its eligibility for preferential AGOA trade benefits. We are greatly concerned that the Ethiopian government, as a direct result of its continuing reckless actions, could force Ethiopia’s expulsion from a program that supports the livelihoods of millions of Ethiopians. If Ethiopia’s AGOA benefits are revoked, the responsibility will fall solely upon the government of Prime Minister Abiy. 

“We sincerely hope that the Ethiopian government can correct course and avert a revocation of AGOA benefits, but it is up to Prime Minister Abiy to take immediate, concrete action to avoid further gross violations of human rights and to bring Ethiopia into compliance with its obligations to both the Ethiopian people and the eligibility requirements of this trade preference program.”