TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Remarks in US House of Representatives on AGOA III

Wednesday, 26 November 2003

Source: Business Day (Johannesburg)

In A move that could further bolster SA's exports to the US, the proposed expansion of the African Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa) has been tabled in the US Congress.

Agoa is estimated to have raised African exports to the US by 1000% since 2001 and created 60000 jobs.

It allows for duty-free and quotafree access for more than 1800 products, such as automotive and textiles from SA and other sub-Saharan countries into the US.

The new bill, known as Agoa III, proposes the extension of the programme from 2008 to at least 2015.

"We have been worried about the 2008 expiry date as many countries have been slow in aligning themselves to take advantage," said Henry Flint of Standard Corporate and Merchant Bank.

The bill also proposes the extension by four years of allowing the least developed sub-Saharan countries to use third country fabric for duty-free apparel exports to the US. This benefit would have expired in September next year.

In addition, the bill proposes to "reduce the challenges and barriers that African farmers face in trying to export their goods to the US".

Peter Draper of the South African Institute of International Affairs said it was difficult to interpret the consequences of this statement without details of how the US planned to lower barriers in agriculture.

But Flint said African countries should embrace this initiative.