TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Namibia: Environmental Concerns at AGOA Factory

Thursday, 07 October 2004

Source: Business Day (Johannesburg)

Some clothing and textile exporters were failing to comply with the strict requirements of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) adopted by the US government to promote exports from Africa, South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Pravin Gordhan said yesterday.

Their actions could jeopardise their participation in the scheme, as well as SA's status as an exporter to the US, Gordhan warned in a briefing to Parliament's finance committee on the SARS annual report.

Agoa allows duty-free access into the US for about 1 800 product lines from qualifying sub-Saharan countries. It has stimulated substantial growth in South African exports to the US since its implementation in 2000. Agoa countries' exports to the US were valued at just more than R14bn last year, representing a 55% increase from 2002.

Gordhan said South African exporters were increasingly displaying noncompliant behaviour, and he warned in an interview that SARS planned stronger enforcement to stamp it out.

Customs officials would be visiting the businesses involved in a much more stringent way than in the past, he said.

Exporters are required in terms of the act to maintain documentation that can be inspected by customs officials. These documents would prove, among other things, goods imported into SA were not being transhipped to the US with a Made in SA label, in violation of the act.

"We have an understanding with US customs that in implementing Agoa, SARS and US customs will co-operate with each other to find mutually acceptable rules and procedures. By and large we have found that South African exporters are in line with what is required of them," he said.

"However we have concerns as we have identified a handful of exporters who are not complying with the regulations and not keeping the necessary documentation. They will certainly be jeopardising their own participation within the Agoa scheme.

"Where we have such sensitive relationships put in place by our government, in collaboration with others to provide benefits for South African business, let's ensure that South African business complies fully with the letter of the law. We are saying, don't jeopardise a scheme which is a huge advantage to SA and to the region'," Gordhan said.

He told the committee that SARS planned to undertake major changes to enhance its ability to compose risk profiles of taxpayers, and identify aggressive tax avoidance schemes.

Sectoral specialists would also be developed for this purpose.

“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.