TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Agriculture Trade between SA, US to be Enhanced

Monday, 11 December 2006

Source: BuaNews (South Africa)

Agricultural trade between South Africa and the United States of America (US) should improve during the first half of 2007, the Department of Agriculture said on Monday.

"During the first half of next year, trade in citrus, table grapes, apples and beef between the two countries should be enhanced," the department said in a statement.

Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulama Xingwana is in the US holding bilateral trade talks with her counterpart Mike Johanns, amongst others.

The US remains South Africa's number one trading partner in terms of total trade, which includes agricultural goods.

Total trade is approaching R60 billion with an annual increase of approximately 11 percent, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

Ms Xingwana and Mr Johanns have discussed the revival of the South Africa-US Agriculture Working group to promote trade between the two countries.

They have also discussed global trade in terms of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) including the US farm Bill 2007 and its impact on the Doha negotiations.

Discussions were also held regarding the Agricultural Research Cooperation and a proposal to revive the Professional Development Programme (PDP).

The PDP involves the two countries' agriculture departments, the South African Agriculture Research Council and some US universities.

The talks further extended to the issues of animal and plant and the Food Safety Inspection Services.

"The talks were mostly in a positive spirit, and should lead to better trade and market access between the two countries and the rest of the continent," the department said, adding that it would be possible under the US's African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

AGOA significantly liberalises trade between the US and 37 designated Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries including South Africa.

The Act builds on existing US trade programs by expanding the duty-free benefits previously available only under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) program.

It originally covered the 8-year period from October 2000 to September 2008, but amendments signed into law by US President George Bush in July 2004 further extended it to 2015.

Ms Xingwana also attended a Consultative meeting on International Agricultural Research Business.