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1 Nov 2021

Dawit Endeshaw, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Ethiopia: Concerns raised over textile workers' jobs as AGOA trade deal is suspended over Tigray war

"Ethiopian textile industry at risk if U.S. suspends trade deal over Tigray war", 1 November 2021

...Like thousands of other Ethiopian women, stitching shawls for export to the United States pays [ Finoteselam Nigussie,'s] rent and her daughter's school fees.

...the United States ponders suspending Ethiopia's duty-free market status, citing abuses and a growing famine in the war-ravaged northern Tigray region.

Suspension of benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) would threaten Ethiopia's aspirations to become a light manufacturing hub...

Washington has repeatedly expressed concern over widespread reports of sexual violence by Ethiopian and allied Eritrean soldiers in Tigray, where local forces have battled the military and its allies for a year.

The United Nations says a de facto blockade of aid has forced 400,000 people into famine. On Thursday, it said no food convoys had entered Tigray for the past 10 days. There have been many reports of mass killings of civilians.

The government has denied blocking aid and said individual soldiers have been tried for any abuses, without giving details. Eritrea has denied committing abuses.

Washington has already laid the ground for sanctions, with its chief trade representative promising a decision soon on its AGOA status...

Ethiopia has spent billions constructing a dozen industrial parks and related infrastructure. Some factories produce goods for fashion giant PVH, owner of the Calvin Klein, Speedo and Tommy Hilfiger labels...

An H&M spokesperson said the company was following developments regarding AGOA carefully, but it was too early to comment...

U.S.-based apparel companies The Children's Place, Gap and PVH did not respond to requests for comment...