TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

South Africa urges the US to extend its duty-free trade law

Tuesday, 06 October 2009

Source: Business Day (South Africa)

South Africa is pushing the US to extend the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which enables sub-Saharan African countries to export more than 6400 items duty-free to that country.

If extended indefinitely, as SA would like, Agoa would boost SA’s and the continent’s trade with the US significantly.

SA is clearly benefiting from the trade deal. The value of SA- US trade has increased steadily, from 923m in 2001 to 8,9bn last year, and SA is keen to grow this trade even more. SA’s exports to the US this year were R19,1bn to June and R66,5bn for all of last year.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said yesterday the government believed that many African countries were barely beginning to understand how to use the nine-year-old Agoa fruitfully to boost their exports to the US market.

More time was needed to build the capacity of Africa’s least developed nations to export more than one product to the US before Agoa expired in 2015.

“They have hardly taken full advantage of the programme, and it would help a lot to extend the programme beyond 2015,” Davies said. US trade and investment officer in Johannesburg Ann-Marie Chiappetta said the US Congress was reviewing the trade-preference programme for developing countries, which would determine Agoa’s future.

US trade representative Ron Kirk said recently he would “keep an open mind” on Agoa in reviewing what worked best for America and Africa.

SA’s exports to the US include BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class cars, jewellery, leather, plastic, fruits, nuts and fruit juices.

Agoa was conceived under former president Bill Clinton, and signed into law in 2000 by then- president George Bush.

Department of Trade and Industry director-general Tshediso Matona said if the US phased out Agoa, SA had called for it to be replaced with a policy to advance Africa’s regional economic integration.

“ 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.