White House

White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will eliminate trade benefits for Mauritania in response to a military coup in August that toppled a democratically elected president, the White House said Friday.
"I have decided to terminate the designation of Mauritania as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country ... effective on January 1, 2009," President Bush said in a proclamation.
Many sub-Saharan African countries are eligible under the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act to export goods to the United States without paying duties.
Congress approved the program in May 2000 in a bid to spur economic growth in one of the world's poorest regions. Mauritania, a country in northwest Africa, was allowed into the program in June 2007.
"This termination is based on Mauritania's failure to make progress toward establishing the rule of law and political pluralism, which is one statutory criterion for AGOA eligibility," a spokesman for the White House National Security Council said.
"The junta detained the president and prime minister and has yet to indicate when it will restore constitutional rule," the spokesman said.
President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, the former French colony's first democratically elected leader, has been held since Aug. 6 when military officers led by Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz overthrew him. (Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Xavier Briand)