TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

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

Monday, 28 October 2019 Published: | SIMONE LIEDTKE

Source: Engineering News (South Africa)

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 Representative (USTR) of a review of South Africa’s eligibility for tariff exemptions under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

To add to the gravity of the matter, Sakeliga laments that South Africa’s GSP eligibility has implications for its eligibility for duty-free access to the US market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).

Sakeliga CEO Piet le Roux points out that, of the $8-billion worth of exports from South Africa to the US in 2017, $1.1-billion (14%) benefited from GSP exemptions, and $1.8-billion (23%) from Agoa exemptions.

“Given that, in recent years, up to 40% of exports from South Africa to the US benefited from GSP and Agoa tariff exemptions, the importance of careful consideration of the impact of enactment of the Bills cannot be overstated,” he emphasises.

In Sakeliga’s letter to the President, Sakeliga also requests that the President exercise his “prerogative to refer the two Bills for Constitutional review back to the National Assembly”, which could aid the President in his ultimate decision, Le Roux says.

The letter also refers to the possibility that, if the President were to be required under law to sign these Bills, thereby enacting them, the President would need to consider determining their start dates as far as possible into the future, in order to afford Parliament time to reconsider its position in light of developments and propose alternative, or further, Bills, before the Acts come into effect.

According to Le Roux, such a course of action would require diplomatic engagement with relevant US representatives, in order to assure them that the delay is an appropriate mechanism to afford Parliament time to propose alternative legislation that addresses the GSP review concerns.

The review of South Africa’s eligibility for GSP exemptions comes after acceptance by the USTR of a petition by the International Intellectual Property Alliance, which cited the two Bills currently awaiting the President’s signature as reasons for their petition, arguing that the Bills fall short of international treaty obligations and GSP criteria

 

View related news articles

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

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...

27 July, 2020
'South Africa must get ready for an inevitable loosening of trade ties with the US'

'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...

02 June, 2020
Former US negotiator: US-Kenya deal could spur regional value chains

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...

10 February, 2020
South Africa GSP country review hearings: programme and witness list

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...

29 January, 2020
South Africa will caution Trump on ‘premature’ trade review

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...

29 January, 2020