The Government of the United States has notified the Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania of the termination of Mauritania’s eligibility for trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) as of January 1, 2019. Under U.S. law, countries receiving AGOA benefits are subject to regular reviews to assess the level of protection for internationally recognized standards, including rights for workers. As with all actions on AGOA, the President based his decision on a broad assessment by the United States government that takes into account input from the Mauritanian government, international organizations, and other stakeholders in the United States and Mauritania.
I would like to stress that Mauritanian exports to the United States will continue to benefit from preferential treatment under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
With regard to the AGOA decision itself, the United States recognizes the many achievements that Mauritania has made in addressing the challenges stemming from centuries of hereditary slavery. This is a struggle that Americans understand all too well, and that is one reason that American law requires my government to take difficult decisions when we assess that a country is not making continual progress towards the protection of human rights. That said, the President of the United States can reinstate Mauritania’s AGOA eligibility at any time after determining that the country is meeting the criteria laid out by Congress.
Last month we launched the United States-Mauritania Business Forum. In my remarks at that event, and again in a press interview with Essahraa news website, I described the American perspective on the growing bilateral partnership between our two countries. I made an optimistic assessment about our growing economic links, and how the three pillars of our partnerships – economic, security, and human rights – are closely linked. The relationship between our two countries is much bigger than AGOA. The ambitions that I stated last month remain unchanged. I look forward to continuing to work with the Mauritanian government and people to realize the enormous potential of the important partnership between our two friendly countries.
Nouakchott on November 5th 2018