South Africa: AGOA's positive impact felt in the Cape

South Africa: AGOA's positive impact felt in the Cape
Cape Town
Published
Wednesday, 07 August 2019 ~ Virginia Blaser

Two hundred and twenty years ago, the second US President John Adams sent an American, John Elmsie Jr, to Cape Town to serve as the first US government diplomatic representative to the Cape of Good Hope. 

Elmsie’s presence was largely focused on commerce; he studied the local economy, reviewed regulations and worked to encourage US trade.  

Since Elmsie’s launch of our diplomatic relations two centuries ago, the Western Cape and the US’s trade and commercial ties have grown significantly. 

Today, the US is the Western Cape’s top foreign direct investor and directly contributes to almost 100 foreign direct investment projects worth $2.3 billion (R34.24bn). This US investment has created more than 8 000 jobs in the province.  

In the past six years alone, Western Cape exports to the US have doubled, reaching more than $688 million of goods to the US in 2018. It is clear that, despite the geographic distance between us, our economies are growing together.  

Indeed, the US is the third largest export market for goods from the Western Cape, behind only Namibia and the UK. 

These exports are facilitated, in part, by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which allows duty-free exports of more than 6 500 goods from Africa to the US.  

Since it was enacted in 2000, Agoa has served as the cornerstone of US economic engagement with Africa, particularly South Africa, which is the single greatest African beneficiary of Agoa.  

Agoa has helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs and economic opportunities across the continent. This is particularly true in the Western Cape as 18 of the province’s 25 top exports to the US are exported duty-free.  

These products include jewellery, engine parts, citrus, wine, boats, seafood and leather. Agoa has been the primary driver for the dramatic increase in exports from the Western Cape to the US.

This year’s Agoa Forum, which ended yesterday in the Ivory Coast, marked the 18th year for leaders from African countries and the US to discuss how to promote trade, business, and investment opportunities that sustain economic growth in Africa.

The Forum provided an opportunity to take stock of Agoa’s successes, and advance a dialogue on the future of the US-Africa trade and investment relationship.  

The mutually beneficial trade relationship between the US and the Western Cape is one of these successes and demonstrates how our trade can grow the Western Cape’s economy and provide economic opportunities.  

As in the 18th century, our official presence in Cape Town continues to focus on trade, investment, and economic opportunities to create jobs and wealth.  

As the current Consul-General in Cape Town, I am proud to continue the efforts begun by John Elmsie and guided by more than 50 others. 

I look forward to working together with the government, business leaders, and civil society to expand our excellent economic partnership and create ever more opportunities for growth and joint prosperity.   

  • Virginia Blaser is the US Consul-General (Cape Town)

View related news articles

'Funding challenges undermine SMEs’ growth in Africa'

Analysts who spoke at a recent webinar organised by the American Business Council in Nigeria, in collaboration with US Chamber of Commerce, Amcham Ghana and Amcham South Africa on the US-Africa relations, have identified lack of adequate funding as a major challenge to the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa. The analysts were of the view that SMEs across Africa are faced with serious funding challenges, despite their...

30 July 2021

'The renewal: US-Africa relationship'

In his first allocution to African leaders at the virtual African Union Summit in February, recently elected United States President, Joe Biden, reiterated his administration’s commitment to rebuilding partnerships with Africa and re-engaging with international institutions such as the African Union. Biden set out his foreign policy priorities, pointing towards multilateralism and a healthier US-Africa relationship. Within days of his...

13 April 2021

SA president to meet with US Chamber of Commerce over investment

President Cyril Ramaphosa will participate in a virtual business and investment roundtable on Tuesday (10 November) with representatives from three major business organisations from the United States. The organisations are the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), and the US Chamber of Commerce. “The president will be supported by South Africa’s Ambassador to the United States, Ms...

10 November 2020

Opinion: 'Trump vs. Biden: This is how it could impact South African agriculture'

As the race for the White House continues, agriculture leaders say a win for Democrat Joe Biden will strengthen and fast-track trade relations between South Africa and the United States. Currently, the race between pres. Donald Trump and Biden hinges on tight races in battleground states. Trump has already falsely claimed victory while Biden called for patience and every vote to be counted. Meanwhile Mzansi’s [>South Africa<]...

05 November 2020

Will the US presidential elections impact South Africa’s economic recovery?

With over 6.29million recorded cases worldwide and over 380,00 deaths, its safe to say the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the globe as we know it. Although Africa has, for the most part, managed to avoid an exponential spread of the disease, the overall recovery of the country and more specifically South Africa, hangs in the balance due to a number of factors.  Long delays with vital decisions The country has experienced over...

27 July 2020

'South Africa must get ready for an inevitable loosening of trade ties with the US'

In six months’ time the world’s gaze will be trained on what is gearing up to be a contentious and hotly contested presidential election in the US. Irrespective of who emerges victorious between the incumbent President Donald Trump and the Democratic nominee Joe Biden South Africa needs to start thinking about what it stands to lose – or gain – from the new administration’s stance. This is especially so in the area of economic...

02 June 2020

Former US negotiator: US-Kenya deal could spur regional value chains

A trade deal with the U.S. could help both Kenya and its neighbors in the East African Community by fostering the development of regional value chains, a former U.S. trade official tells Inside U.S. Trade. “I think it’d be really fascinating as we go forward with this U.S.-Kenya FTA to see what’s going to be possible not just for Kenya but for other African countries in various sectors,” Florie Liser, a former assistant U.S. Trade...

10 February 2020

South Africa GSP country review hearings: programme and witness list

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OFFICE OF THE U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE PUBLIC COUNTRY PRACTICE HEARING U.S. GENERALIZED SYSTEM OF PREFERENCES (GSP) Held at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative 1724 F Street, N.W. Washington D.C., Rooms 1 and 2 January 31, 2020 Program and Witness List - Final Welcome and Introduction 10:00 am Ms. Laura Buffo, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for GSP and Chair of the GSP...

29 January 2020

South Africa will caution Trump on ‘premature’ trade review

South Africa’s government will tell President Donald Trump’s administration that its review of a preferential trade agreement that could put as much as $2.4 billion in exports at risk is premature and potentially damaging for both economies. The U.S. Trade Representative will start public hearings on Thursday [see submissions and hearing schedule here] to review the nation’s duty-free access to the U.S. market under the...

29 January 2020

SA business organisation asks president to delay enactment of two Bills to ensure continued US trade benefits

Business organisation Sakeliga has requested President Cyril Ramaphosa to delay the enactment of two Bills of Parliament, which it says could potentially jeopardise 40% of South Africa’s exports to the US. The relevant Bills are the Copyright Amendment Bill (B13B-2017) and the Performer’s Protection Bill (B24B-2016). Sakeliga’s open letter on Monday follows an announcement made last week by the Office of the US Trade...

28 October 2019

R35 billion in South African exports to the USA are at stake in a 'review' just triggered by SA's copyright reform efforts

South African exports to the United States worth some R35 billion last year will be at stake when the Office of the United States Trade Representative launches a review of SA's eligibility for duty-free imports under the US system known as the Generalized System of Preferences, or GSP. The US federal government announced plans for the review on Friday. The exports threatened include – but go beyond – exports to...

27 October 2019