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Exporters reaping AGOA rewards

Published date:
Monday, 26 November 2007

The US is likely to overtake Japan as South Africa’s biggest customer this year.

Department of trade and industry data show that South Africa exported R34-billion worth of goods to the US this year to August, slightly more than the R33.8-billion exported to Japan.

Craig Allen, the US Commercial Service’s senior commercial officer in Johannesburg, said this was thanks to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), a US government incentive that gives 99.6percent of exports from this country exemption from US import duties.

Though South Africa’s mining products still dominated sales to the US, Allen said vehicle parts were now South Africa’s third- biggest export to his country , followed by machinery.

“Exports of manufactured goods from South Africa are growing fast — a good story because it means investment is coming into this country and jobs are being created.

“The US, at $14-trillion, is by far the largest market in the world. South African companies were initially a bit slow to take advantage of Agoa but they are learning. You just have to tick the right box to get your goods into the US duty-free,” said Allen.

US government data show that exports from South Africa are 22percent higher this year to September than in the same period last year. South African exports to the US grew 27.4percent in 2006, Allen said.

Though South Africa has run up an overall trade deficit of R55billion this year, it has a trade surplus with the US, even though the US is our third-biggest source of imported goods.

Japan has traditionally been South Africa’s largest trading partner. Platinum-group metals, which at R65-billion last year are South Africa’s biggest export-revenue generator, are bought by Toyota, Nissan and other car makers for catalytic converters for vehicles. Japan is also a big customer for coal, South Africa ’s second-biggest product, at R38-billion.

South Africa is reducing its dependence on raw-material sales but not fast enough to balance trade, the DTI’s data show.

India’s imports to South Africa have rocketed 251percent over the past four years.

“ 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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