The United States will drop The Gambia from a duty-free tradeObama and Jammeh programme as of 1 January 2015, according to a presidential proclamation on Tuesday, 23 December 2015 that said the country is not making continual progress in meeting the requirements described in section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 [Trade] Act.“Pursuant to section 506A(a)(3) of the 1974 Act, I have determined that South Sudan and The Gambia are not making continual progress in meeting the requirements described in section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 Act. Accordingly, I have decided to terminate the designation of South Sudan and The Gambia as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries for purposes of section 506A of the 1974 Act, effective on January 1, 2015,” the US President proclaimed. But President Barack Obama said Guinea-Bissau (which was removed from eligibility) would be reinstated to a 14-year-old trade program giving African countries duty-free access to U.S. markets, known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). On January 1, 2003 The Gambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo were designated as the 37th and 38th AGOA eligible countries. No specific reason was pinpointed in the proclamation for Gambia’s removal from eligibility. However, according to the US Department of State website, “The Act authorizes the President to designate countries as eligible to receive the benefits of AGOA if they are determined to have established, or are making continual progress toward establishing the following: market-based economies; the rule of law and political pluralism; elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment; protection of intellectual property; efforts to combat corruption; policies to reduce poverty, increasing availability of health care and educational opportunities; protection of human rights and worker rights; and elimination of certain child labor practices.” The U.S. National Security Council has voiced concern over Gambia’s moves to block access to UN human rights investigators and enact new laws against homosexuality. Furthermore, in June this year, the US Embassy issued a statement expressing concern about two U.S. citizens Alhaji Ceesay and Ebrima Jobe who had gone missing in The Gambia, pointing out that the protection and safety of U.S. citizens overseas remains the highest importance to the State Department. GAMBIA GOVERNMENT REACTION The Government of The Gambia has released a media dispatch in reaction to the US Government’s announcement that it has been removed from the list of eligible sub-Saharan African countries under AGOA. The release, aired on GRTS television, states that the Government of the republic of The Gambia congratulates the Government of the United States of America for the removal of The Gambia from the list of eligible sub-Saharan African countries under the African Growth and Opportunity Act and which Act, it added, Gambia never benefitted from in the first place. The release further noted that in light of the interview in the local media made by the Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Banjul, it has now become unequivocally clear to the Government of the republic of The Gambia that the Government of the United States of America has no good intentions for the people of the Gambia. It concluded that with unshakeable faith in the almighty Allah alone, it should clear that dignified people of the Gambia will not succumb to outside pressure of any kind nor from any source and that the well being of the people will remain paramount for the Government of the Gambia.

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