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South Africa lifts US exports by 23pc as Nigeria disappoints

Published date:
Tuesday, 27 November 2007

South Africa's exports to the US continue to rise strongly, while those of Africa's major oil producer are disappointing.

Data published on the US Africa Growth and Opportunities Act ( website show local exports to the US were worth $6.8 billion (R47.6 billion) in the first nine months of the year, up nearly 23 percent on the same period last year.

Nigeria was the continent's biggest exporter, selling goods worth $22 billion to the US, but this represented growth of less than 1 percent. Energy-related products were worth $21.9 billion, a rise of just 0.4 percent, according to Eckart Naumann, an independent trade economist and associate of the Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa.

The disappointing figure is partly due to flat oil prices for the period. The surge in crude oil prices is relatively recent: Bloomberg reported yesterday that oil prices had risen more than 40 percent since August as the dollar weakened.

Supply disruptions, mainly due to political tensions, contributed to the muted growth in Nigeria's exports. Nigerian newspaper Punch reported at the weekend that crude oil output declined by 4.9 percent in the first half of the year.

The Republic of Congo performed even worse. Its exports, also largely energy-related, fell 10 percent to $2.2 billion in the period. But Angolan exports rose 7 percent to $8.7 billion.

After the oil exporters and South Africa, Lesotho notched up the best performance, exporting goods worth $323.3 million to the US, up nearly 10 percent on the first nine months of last year. Naumann said clothing accounted for $301 million. Of this, about $298 million is exported under Agoa, which allows duty-free and quota-free access to US markets.

In the case of clothing, Naumann said, Agoa had five years to run. He said an economic partnership agreement was about to be concluded between the EU and Southern African Customs Union countries, among others, which would provide similar benefits for an indefinite period.

More than 70 percent of South Africa's exports to the US are in the minerals and metals category. According to Roger Baxter, a Chamber of Mines economist, diamonds and platinum group metals account for most of these exports.

The rest of South Africa's exports are spread across a wide range of categories; the biggest are transport equipment and chemical products.

Sub-Saharan exports to the US were worth $45.8 billion in the first nine months, about 6 percent higher than the same period of last year.

[Ethel Hazelhurst]

“ 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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