TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Africa's Century of Prosperity Has Arrived, Trade Expert Predicts

Tuesday, 28 September 2004


South Africa´s automotive sector exports to the United States are lower this year than over the corresponding period last year. This is according to the latest available trade data from the US International Trade Commission. The trade data to July 2004 shows that in a number of categories, South Africa has been unable to match last year´s exports of automotives and components to the US. And since the data is denominated in US$, the impact in local Rand has been even greater as a result of a strengthening local currency.

Key to South Africa´s US-bound auto exports has been the trade in "spark-ignition internal combustion engines" with an engine size of between 1500cc and 3000cc. In other words, normal passenger vehicles classified within 87.0323 in the widely used Harmonised System nomenclature. 2003 exports were valued at US$ 319mn, with exports in the January to July time-frame of that year amounting to US$ 315mn. Since then, however, exports have taken a major step back. In the corresponding January to July 2004 period, exports in this categoy have fallen a staggering 87% year-on-year. Since this categoy qualifies for the important duty-free concessions offered under AGOA, virtually all of SA´s exports have entered the US under this program. The tariff preference that AGOA offers here is 2,5%, and it appears insufficient to provide a real competitive edge to South African producers.

The next largest export category consist of motor vehicles with an engine size of over 3000cc. The aggregate value of US-bound exports in 2003 was virtually identical to that of smaller-engined motor vehicles. However, most exports took place in the second half of the year, resulting in a 260% year-on-year increase when using the January-July comparative period. 2004 exports amount to US$ 204mn thus far. Despite this surge in larger-engined motor vehicles, the aggregate decrease in expots of motor vehicles is nonetheless over 34%.

Parts and accessories for motor vehicles also form an important component of exports. Exports of catalytic converters, a former South African success story, amounted to US$ 23mn this year and represents a slight increase over last year (catalytic converters are dutyfree under MFN tariffs, and not included in AGOA/GSP). In 2001, catalytic converter exports amounted to US$165mn, but fell to US$ 65mn and US$ 51mn in 2002 and 2003 respectively.

Under AGOA, wheels form one of the largest category (US$ 18mn to July 2004, up 1,8% year on year), followed by parts and accessories "not elsewhere specified" (US$ 12mn), shock absorbers (US$ 6,5mn, up 37% year on year), and radiators (US$ 6mn, up 54% year on year).

For a sector-based profile of South Africa´s trade with the US, follow this link.

(Eckart Naumann)

“AGOA Latest AGOA Trade Data on

Click here to view a sector profile of South Africa´s bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include:

  • AGOA-beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.