TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

South Africa: AGOA gets the C-classes rolling from SA to the US

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Source: Business Report (South Africa)

International car manufacturers that base operations in South Africa are benefiting from the US's African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which allows certain categories of exports from Africa to enter the US market duty free.

Motor vehicle exports from South Africa to the US surged 226 percent in the first three months of the year. Figures from the US state department show that the country bought $375 million (R2.8 billion) worth of motor vehicles from South Africa between January and March, compared with $115 million a year earlier.

Nico Vermeulen, the executive director of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA, says Mercedes-Benz South Africa has introduced a new C-class model, after phasing out its old C-class model last year. The local operation has ramped up production, exporting 8 000 vehicles worldwide in the first four months, a fivefold increase on last year.

He says BMW South Africa is a top exporter, including to the US. The cars are allowed into the US duty free under Agoa.

Motor vehicles, along with other automotive manufactures, have made transport equipment the second-largest category of local exports to the US. In the first three months of the year, transport exports were worth $423.9 million, up from $169 million last year. (But this was a big dip from $664.9 million the previous year. Vermeulen suggests that the decrease came ahead of Mercedes' introduction of its new C-class.)

The balance of trade in this category lies with the US, which exported $544 million worth of transport equipment to South Africa, compared with $344.4 million a year earlier. But overall, South Africa has a trade surplus with the US, exporting $2.5 billion in the three months, compared with US exports to South Africa of $1.4 billion.

The reason for the surplus is $1.7 billion worth of metals and minerals that South Africa sold into the US, of which only $285 million was under 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.