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Senator Wyden asks for review of Ugandan trade status
Jan '10
After reviewing legislation being considered by the Ugandan Parliament that would imprison citizens for being Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee's subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness indicated that if Uganda passes such a law, it will be in violation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which requires that beneficiaries not engage in “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

AGOA grants Ugandan imports to the United States duty-free status, which Wyden says should be revoked if Uganda moves forward with the Anti-Homosexual law.

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Wyden writes: “I strongly urge you to communicate immediately to the Ugandan government, and President Yoweri Museveni directly, that Uganda's beneficiary status under AGOA will be revoked should the proposed legislation be enacted.”

Uganda has been a beneficiary under AGOA since its passage in 2000. President Museveni was an early and active proponent of the legislation and Uganda has been among many of the sub-Saharan African countries that have benefited from the duty-free treatment that AGOA provides to over 90 percent of the products from sub-Saharan Africa.

Wyden has called on Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Kirk to determine if the European Union will reconsider its trade preference program for Uganda in the event this legislation is passed. He intends to sponsor legislation to amend U.S. trade laws to preclude countries that fail to adequately respect sexual orientation and gender identity as human rights from benefitting from any U.S. trade preference scheme.

The House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance are seriously considering proposals to reform U.S. trade preference programs and Wyden has been active in those discussions.

“Before us is a concrete opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to ending violence and discrimination against LGBT persons worldwide,” Wyden continued in the letter.

Click here to read text of the letter:

U.S. Senate

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