Claims by Abiy Ahmed supporters of Pan Africanism supporting Ethiopian and Eritrean war efforts forget that Ethiopia’s favored status by the USA may have previously hindered other areas of African development. Now Ethiopia’s loss of participation in the AGOA may bring a new focus and new opportunities for developing West Africa’s large cotton industry which will be included in the AGOA treaty.
West African countries which are greatest producers of cotton on the continent stand to gain greatly from the removal of Ethiopia from the AGOA treaty. The conversion of Ethiopia into an authoritarian state carrying out a genocidal war against the Tigray and Oromo while eliminating free press, civil rights, and right to due process including extrajudicial killing and detention resulted in the appropriate removal of Ethiopia from the African Growth and Opportunity Act Treaty which requires maintaining civil rights and democracy.
Ethiopia produces little cotton requiring high costs of importing from other regions. Meanwhile the West African countries of Benin, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso respectively rank sixth, seventh, and eighth in the world in terms of cotton production. Currently only 2% of the local output is used to create textiles which have underdeveloped in West Africa. The African Continental Free Trade Area agreement goes into effect January 1st which will further facilitate local trade in West Africa.
Currently West Africa spends more in importing finished textiles $2.8 billion than it exports in raw cotton $992 million. The Oxford Business Group reported that the West Africa Competitiveness Programme, created as a partnership between the EU and ECOWAS, estimates that establishing a garment supply chain in the region could boost the industry’s value by as much as 600% which would be many times larger than that seen in Ethiopia. This would involve building capacity along the entire supply chain: spinning cotton into yarn, weaving yarn into fabric, and dyeing, printing and designing finished clothing. Many analysts see over 250,000 jobs be added to sustain a new textile hub in Africa.