The United States has announced that it has excluded Ethiopia, Mali and Guinea from a US-Africa trade agreement

The US Trade Representative claimed that the actions of the three governments violated its principles, adding that it is "deeply concerned" about what it termed "gross violations of internationally recognised human rights".

As conflict continues in northern Ethiopia, the US placed blame on the government there as well as other parties for "widening the conflict".

"Each country has clear benchmarks for a pathway toward reinstatement and the administration will work with their governments to achieve that objective," the US Trade Representative said.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was put in place in 2000 under the administration of former president Bill Clinton to facilitate and regulate trade between the United States and Africa.

Under the agreement, thousands of African products benefit from reduced import taxes.

This is subject to conditions being met regarding human rights, good governance and worker protection, as well as not applying a customs ban on US products on their territory.

The agreement was modernised in 2015 by the US Congress, which extended the programme until 2025.