NO REGRETS: “We Signed AGOA Deal But Some Text Wasn’t Clear To Us, Now We Know!

Gen. Yoweri Museveni


A recent decision by the Joe Biden administration to expel Uganda from AGOA deal has attracted rebuttal from President Yoweri Museveni’s government.

Government now says the US actually ‘duped’ it on the real intentions of this trade cooperation baptized as Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Titus Seruga, an official at Uganda’s embassy in Brussels says Uganda would have not appended it’s signature on this agreement had US been open about it’s real meaning to those who were to benefit from it.

“What the U.S is saying in simple terms is; we can’t allow Uganda to bring its goods on its soil duty-free if they don’t accept LGBTQ rights. If this were explicitly mentioned in the text of the Act before 

signing, Uganda wouldn’t have joined AGOA” he said.

We understood that Seruga was part of the team including among others minister Jeje Odongo, SG Richard Todwong and Moses Byaruhanga whom Museveni dispatched to the West to explain Uganda’s position on Homosexuality after Biden put Uganda on notice of expulsion if it didn’t rescind the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023.

He was responding to allegations that the Museveni was expelled from AGOA thanks to the perceived incompetence on the side of his team in charge of diplomatic affairs. 

Some voices within the system recently suggested that Museveni lost out on this deal because he had weaknesses on his hitherto strong fronts of NRM secretariat, Diaspora leadership, Chatham House politics and diplomacy. These fronts are now said to be weak to deal with what was described as a ‘reckless opposition’ like National Unity Platform (NUP) led by Principal Bobi Wine. It was reported in that article carried by this news site (MUSEVENI EXPULSION FROM AGOA: Is it time to recall Sam Kutesa From His Hideout?), that the president was able to successfully deal with the Kizza Besigye (Reform Agenda/FDC) propaganda using the aforementioned fronts, which countered his rhetoric in the West but for Bobi, such efforts are said to be minimal or less aggressive. 

However, according to Seruga who is in charge of Public Diplomacy at the embassy, whereas the U.S has the right to form it’s own interpretation of laws and come up it’s with laws, Uganda, under international law, also has the right to form its own understanding based on the social construct of Uganda and its cultural beliefs. 

“Where both parties don’t agree on the interpretation, one has the right to withdraw from an agreement” he said citing the United Nations Charter adopted in 1945 which reaffirms the sovereign equality of all its Members and sets principles concerning the relations between the countries. 

He said the charter does recognize the right of the each member state to develop their own system of laws and domestic policies. Seruga adds that, the same charter allows members to develop mechanisms designed to assist in peaceful dispute resolution as well as in the maintenance of international peace and security.

Other instruments he cited included the Principle of State Sovereignty and the Vienna Convention on the law of Treaties.

He said the principle of state sovereignty is a foundational concept in modern international law as it declares that every 

sovereign state has the right to manage its territory, enact laws for itself, and administer its internal affairs exclusively without any interference from other states, subject to the observance of international law.

“The Vienna Convention treaty was aimed at the codification of rules and principles related to the treaties between states. It acknowledges the principle of a state’s sovereignty along with the right of a state to free mutual consent in a treaty. It also provides the cases under which treaties may be invalidated or terminated” he explained.


He said Uganda has benefited from the AGOA with its Products accessing US market duty-free although the same US recently gave reasons why they can no tolerate Uganda benefiting from the deal following the enactment of the anti-gay Act.

“Their (US) reasons rotate around the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023. Their demands were clear in writing. (However), there are no provisions in AGOA itself directly to this effect (LGBTQ rights) although, eligibility for receiving benefits under AGOA contains a requirement of human rights including protection given to worker rights recognized internationally, rule of law, and protection of human rights” he said.

He said U.S. trade preference programs and foreign policy underlie the broader principles of safeguarding human rights, including those of ‘reverse masters’, the reason they say countries wishing to benefit from AGOA must adhere to these broader principles and non-discrimination.

“International law recognizes the sovereignty of nations to make their own laws within their territories. This is a key principle in the structure of the international legal system and this has been enshrined in various international agreements as well as customary international law” he said, adding that whereas the US and other Western powers have always maintained this notion that LGBTQ rights are human rights; many countries including EU members, Uganda and some states within US itself don’t agree with this.

Minister Jeje Odongo


He said even as some people blame foreign affairs ministry for doing less on saving the deal, the ministry or it’s missions couldn’t do much about this.

“It’s simply a policy of the U.S. versus the Policy of Uganda” he said, adding that the way forward is cooperation in other areas of mutual interest such as regional peace and security, prosperity for all and protection of refugees.


Regarding unofficial engagements of international partners, he said these continue to be part of the tactics the ministry of foreign affairs is engaged in on regular basis to keep Museveni’s government afloat.

“These are common tactics of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. More diplomacy is conducted in corridors than in boardrooms, and this occurs daily at conferences, international meetings, and meals organized by Missions. Subsequently, formal discussions are established within the Ministry’s official structures” he explained adding that Missions engage in activities aimed at promoting Uganda’s interests abroad on a daily basis and provide reports to Headquarters.

Titus Seruga

Seruga however, defended the current administration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, saying it inherited a what he called a challenging period following a heated election between NRM’s Yoweri Museveni and NUP’s Robert Kyagulanyi, which he said; resulted in criticisms from the U.S, UK, Canada, and the EU. 

“(However), by June 2021, the Ministry had stabilized the situation. It is important to note that Western countries have internal politics that influence their foreign policy decisions. For instance, politicians in the West may openly comment on Uganda solely to appeal to their voters and secure re-election” he said.


He said whereas any patriotic Ugandan is free to defend Uganda’s values and culture to complement the work of the Ministry, Uganda’s diaspora (currently) primarily consists of asylum seekers. The diaspora is also full of individuals who have gained nationality after seeking refuge and claim to have fled persecution. 

“Whether their claims are legitimate or not is a separate issue. However, it raises the question of how the same group can then defend the government from which they claim to be escaping” he said.

The expulsion of Uganda from AGOA may however, backfire on US as Gen. Museveni has already clinched new trade opportunities with NAM, G-77+China countries which he now heads besides the regional and continental markets in Africa.

Tags : NRMPresident Yoweri Museveni


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