According to a statement released by the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on Sunday, the United States has removed Burkina Faso from its trade preference program because it has deep concerns about “unconstitutional changes” in the government of the West African country.
Two military coups took place in Burkina Faso in 2022 as a direct result of public dissatisfaction with the government’s inability to control the activity of armed organizations. Both the old military government and the current military government have tried to improve security, but the attacks have not stopped. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) says that countries in sub-Saharan Africa can enter the United States duty-free if they meet a number of requirements. One of these requirements is that they must make progress toward political pluralism.
The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) stated that Burkina Faso had failed to meet the requirements of the AGOA statute and that the country would be given “clear benchmarks” for a pathway towards reinstatement in the trade program. Additionally, the office stated that Washington would work with Ouagadougou.
In response to the decision, the Burkinabe Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Monday that reiterated a previous statement from November, in which it stated that the timeline for a return to democracy had not changed. In a deal reached in July with the West African regional body ECOWAS, Burkina Faso promised to go back to constitutional rule within the next two years.
Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world, has been engulfed in a conflict in which armed factions linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) have massacred hundreds of civilians and caused one of the humanitarian crises that is increasing at the quickest rate on the African continent. There are around 1.9 million individuals who have been uprooted from their homes and are currently living in improvised camps strewn throughout the parched landscape. Many of these camps are managed by the United Nations.
The violence, which has been going on for approximately seven years now, has been concentrated in the north and the east, which has crippled the local economies, caused widespread starvation, and restricted access to humanitarian groups. A senior United Nations official was asked to leave the country by the military government of Burkina Faso just before Christmas. The UN filed a lawsuit against the decision, saying that “the doctrine of persona non grata does not apply to United Nations officials.” But even though the government did not provide a reason at the time, its foreign minister later accused the official, Barbara Manzi, of portraying a negative picture of the country’s security situation.