WASHINGTON, Jan 21 – Investors involved in $9 billion Nigeria, US Economic Trade Ties may suffer loss as the Trump administration is planning to add Nigeria six other countries – Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Sudan and Tanzania – to its travel ban list, U.S. media reports said on Tuesday.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Trump administration might not place full visa bans on these countries as the restriction may be limited to certain types of visas like the business or visitor visa popularly referred to as B1/B2 visa type.
Trump is expected to announce the expanded travel restrictions on Monday, which would also mark the third-year anniversary of the first travel ban.
However, the list is not final.
The first travel ban issued by the Trump administration affected seven countries with a Muslim majority.
The second was issued in March 2017 and a third in September 2017.
The supreme court upheld the travel ban in 2017 after two appeal courts had initially blocked the move.
The US government had said the travel restriction is necessary to prevent potential acts of terrorism because countries on the list do not adequately screen travellers.
At present, restrictions blocks travellers from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuelan politicians. Chad, a West African country, was removed from the list in April 2018.
Wall Street Journal reports that the new countries have a “relatively higher rates of their citizens overstaying visas in the US”.
According to data released by the department of homeland security, 24% of Eritreans, 15% of Nigerians and 12% of people from Sudan overstayed their visas in 2018.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The United States is the largest foreign investor in Nigeria, with U.S. foreign direct investment concentrated largely in the petroleum/mining and wholesale trade sectors. At $2.2 billion in 2017, Nigeria is the second largest U.S. export destination in Sub-Saharan Africa. The United States and Nigeria have a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement. In 2017, the two-way trade in goods between the United States and Nigeria totaled over $9 billion. U.S. exports to Nigeria include wheat, vehicles, machinery, kerosene, lubricating oils, jet fuel, civilian aircraft, and plastics. Nigerian exports to the United States included crude oil, cocoa, cashew nuts, and animal feed. Nigeria is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
U.S. Assistance to Nigeria
Through U.S. assistance in Nigeria, the U.S. Government works to protect Americans from terrorism and disease, create opportunity for trade and investment, and support a more stable and prosperous country that is a partner in advancing our global priorities.
Through U.S. foreign assistance, the U.S. Government is supporting Nigerian efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, promote good governance and counter corruption, and improve security while addressing the factors that drive conflict and providing life-saving assistance to those affected by terrorism. U.S. assistance also aims to build institutional capacity in the provision of health and education services and increase agricultural productivity and food security.
According to reports Some countries will face bans only on some visa categories, the Wall Street Journal reported. The list of countries was not final and could yet change, website Politico said.
U.S. President Donald Trump said in an interview with the Journal that he was considering adding countries to the travel ban, but declined to state which ones. Politico said an announcement was expected as early as Monday.
The move is likely to sour ties between the United States and the countries affected under the expanded ban.
Nigeria, for example, Africa’s largest economy and most populous country, is a U.S. anti-terrorism partner and has a large diaspora residing in the United States.
A senior Trump administration official said that countries that failed to comply with security requirements, including biometrics, information-sharing and counter-terrorism measures, faced the risk of limitations on U.S. immigration.
The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The State Department declined to comment.
Under the current version of the ban, citizens of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as some Venezuelan officials and their relatives are blocked from obtaining a large range of U.S. immigrant and non-immigrant visas.
Chad was previously covered under the ban but was removed in April 2018.
Citizens of the countries can apply for waivers to the ban, but they are exceedingly rare.
A document outlining the plans — timed to coincide with the third anniversary of Trump’s January 2017 executive order — has been circulating the White House. But the countries that would be affected if it moves forward are blacked out, according to two of the people, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the measure has yet to be finalized.
It’s unclear exactly how many countries would be included in the expansion if it proceeds, but two of the people said that seven countries — a majority of them Muslim — would be added to the list. The most recent iteration of the ban includes restrictions on five majority-Muslim nations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as Venezuela and North Korea.
A different person said the expansion could include several countries that were covered in the first iteration of Trump’s ban, but later removed amid rounds of contentious litigation. Iraq, Sudan and Chad, for instance, had originally been affected by the order, which the Supreme Court upheld in a 5-4 vote after the administration released a watered-down version intended to withstand legal scrutiny.
Trump, who had floated a banning all Muslims from entering the country during his 2016 campaign, criticized his Justice Department for the changes, tweeting that DOJ “should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.”
The countries on the proposed expansion list include allies that fall short on certain security measures. The additional restrictions were proposed by Department of Homeland Security officials following a review of security protocols and “identity management” for about 200 countries, according to the person.
White House House spokesman Hogan Gidley declined to confirm the plan, but praised the travel ban for making the country safer.
“The Travel Ban has been very successful in protecting our Country and raising the security baseline around the world,” he said in a statement. “While there are no new announcements at this time, common-sense and national security both dictate that if a country wants to fully participate in U.S. immigration programs, they should also comply with all security and counter-terrorism measures — because we do not want to import terrorism or any other national security threat into the United States.”
Several of the people said they expected the announcement to be timed to coincide with the third anniversary of Trump’s first, explosive travel ban, which was announced without warning on Jan. 27, 2017 — days after Trump took office. That order sparked an uproar, with massive protests across the nation and chaos at airports where passengers were detained.
The current ban suspends immigrant and non-immigrant visas to applicants from the affected countries, but it allows exceptions, including for students and those who have established “significant contacts” in the U.S.. And it represents a significant softening from Trump’s initial order, which had suspended travel from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days, blocked refugee admissions for 120 days and suspended travel from Syria.
That order was immediately blocked by the courts, prompting a months-long effort by the administration to develop clear standards and federal review processes to try to withstand legal muster. Under the current system, restrictions are targeted at countries the Department of Homeland Security says fail to share sufficient information with the U.S. or haven’t taken necessary security precautions, such as issuing electronic passports with biometric information and sharing information about travelers’ terror-related and criminal histories.
The new proposal was also quickly drawing sharp criticism.
“Different Muslim Ban – same xenophobic Administration,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. “An expanded Muslim Ban will worsen our relationships with countries around the world. It won’t do anything to make our country safer. It will harm refugees, alienate our allies and give extremists propaganda for recruitment.”
An official with Refugees International, a nonprofit that advocates for the displaced worldwide, said the news was very disappointing.
“The news that President Trump is planning to add countries to his travel ban should be heartbreaking to all Americans,” said U.S. Senior Advocate Yael Schacher. “Thousands of people have been cruelly and unreasonably separated from relatives because of the already existing ban. They have been stranded in conflict zones like Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. This is a shameful attempt by the President to misuse his power to expand a ban that principally impacts individuals from the Muslim world.”
Under the existing order, Cabinet secretaries are also required to update the president regularly on whether countries are abiding by the new immigration security benchmarks. Countries that fail to comply risk new restrictions and limitations, while countries that comply can have their restrictions lifted.
The discussions come as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prepares to transmit to the Senate the articles of impeachment the Democratic-led House passed against Trump late last year, launching a formal impeachment trial just as the 2020 election year gets underway. Trump in December became just the third president in history to be impeached by the House. The Republican-controlled Senate is not expected to remove him from office.
Trump ran his 2016 campaign promising to crack down on illegal immigration and spent much of his first term fighting lawsuits trying to halt his push to build a wall along the southern border, prohibit the entry of citizens from several majority-Muslim countries and crack down on migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., amid other measures.
He is expected to press those efforts again this year as he ramps up his reelection campaign and works to energize his base with his signature issue, inevitably stoking Democratic anger.
Just this week, a coalition of leading civil rights organizations urged House leaders to take up the No Ban Act, legislation to end Trump’s travel ban and prevent a new one.
The bill introduced last year by Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., with Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., in the Senate, would impose limits on the president’s ability to restrict entry to the U.S. It would require the administration to spell out its reasons for the restrictions and specifically prohibit religious discrimination.
Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Colleen Long contributed to this report from Washington.