When my colleague Aline Ranaivoson and I interviewed the president for the Secrets of Transformation series, a joint project of Deutsche Welle and the Bertelsmann Stiftung that examines winners and losers in the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI), he told us that fighting corruption and crime related to the lucrative rosewood smuggling business are among his top priorities. Yet when we asked him how he wanted to achieve those goals, Rajaonarimampianina’s strategy remained rather vague. Even with more military vessels patrolling the island’s extensive coastline it is difficult to imagine how the under-equipped authorities will control the entire island. Many people benefit from the smuggling and some have no alternative if they want to survive.
President Obama removes Swaziland, reinstates Madagascar for AGOA Benefits
Madagascar was removed from AGOA on January 1, 2010 following a 2009 coup d’état.
Successful elections in late 2013 led to the formation of Madagascar’s first democratic government since the 2009 coup. The United States has taken steps to normalize relations with Madagascar, lifted all coup-related restrictions on direct assistance to the Malagasy government, and invited President Rajaonarimampianina to attend the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington in August.
The decision to reinstate Madagascar’s AGOA eligibility recognizes the nation’s return to democratic rule, as well as President Rajaonarimampianina’s commitment to promote transparency, combat corruption, and begin rebuilding Madagascar’s economy. Ambassador Froman said, “We are pleased that Madagascar has returned to the family of AGOA nations. We are hopeful that Madagascar will take advantage of AGOA’s potential to create employment, expand bilateral trade, and contribute to the economic well-being, security, and health of its people.”
Office of the United States Trade Representative