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US Businesses see South Africa's Worth

Published date:
Sunday, 19 June 2005

The US business community sees great potential for growth in the relationship between the US and South Africa, with increasingly more US businesses interested in investing in, exporting to, and importing from this country, according to Thomas Donohue, President and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce.

Donohue was speaking at the University of Cape Town (UCT)'s Graduate School of Business on Friday, where he was upbeat in his assessment about the future potential of co-operation between businesses in both countries.

"The American business community wants to be a strong participant in South Africa's economic future and in activities that promote growth, trade and human progress throughout Africa," he told business students.

Over 600 US companies already had a presence in South Africa, and nearly US$4.0bn in investment in the country had directly created more than 100 000 South African jobs, he said.

Two-way trade between the countries already exceeded $9.0bn, sustained many more jobs and had "lit the spark" that had helped to create thousands of South African small businesses.

He noted that the US and the rest of the world were betting that South Africa and the rest of the African continent could overcome its challenges and embark on an era of "unprecedented growth and prosperity".

"From Westminster to the White House, from the G8 ministries to the United Nations, there is now strong and focused attention from the world community on both the problems and promise of Africa," he said.

He believed that from the US business perspective, South Africa could grow, become a bigger player on the global stage, and help lift the continent out of poverty and despair.

However, this would require strong leadership from within, and continued support from the world community.

First, he noted, South Africa had to "unleash the potential" of its entrepreneurs and small business owners, which were the engines of growth in any country.

The existing regulatory burden had discouraged many would-be local entrepreneurs, he believed, which in turn had stifled growth and job creation, while turning away investors.

Second, South Africa had to work to expand free trade and international investment between Africa and the US.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) had been a "tremendous success" he believed, for both countries, helping stimulate 37% growth in total two-way trade between the US and sub-Saharan Africa in 2004.

However, AGOA was only a first step towards a more comprehensive, integrated economic relationship between the two partners, he stated.

"We must build on AGOA's success by passing a Free Trade Agreement between the US and southern Africa, which would give US firms greater access to South African markets and expand AGOA's preferential treatment for the five members of the Southern African Customs Union."

He believed that, in order to attract more job-creating investment, South Africa had to shape its commercial and economic policies through a transparent process that included the business perspective and ensured that multinational companies operating in the country had choices and flexibility in structuring their operations.

“AGOA Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available 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: (click each link to view)

  • 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.

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