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South Africa eyes AGOA forum for manufacturing gain

Published date:
Thursday, 09 June 2011

The International Marketing Council of South Africa (IMC-SA) Wednesday called on the South African delegation to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) 2011 forum to use the opportunity to promote the country's manufacturing and beneficiation sectors.

Established by the U. S. government in 2000, AGOA's central purpose is to strengthen trade between Washington and 37 sub- Saharan African countries.

It provides African countries with trade preferences, which in turn makes it easier to export African products to the U.S..

The 2011 forum, with the theme "Enhanced Trade Through Increased Competitiveness, Value Addition and Deeper Regional Integration", will be held on Thursday and Friday in Lusaka, Zambia.

"South Africa should make maximum use of the trade and investment deal under AGOA which is a highly beneficial offer to South Africa and other African countries. It should also do more in the field of manufactured goods and beneficiated minerals and natural resources," IMC-SA country manager John Battersby said in an interview with Xinhua.

"Promote the manufacturing and beneficiation sectors as well as the energy, renewable energy and infrastructure," Battersby said when Xinhua asked of what he expects from the South Africa delegation going to Lusaka.

IMC-SA, custodian of Brand South Africa, was established in 2002 to help create a positive and compelling brand image for South Africa. Its main objective is the marketing of South Africa through the Brand South Africa campaign.

More than 600 government officials, business leaders and civil society from African countries and the U. S. are expected gather discussing ways of promoting trade, business, and investment opportunities that sustain economic development in Africa.

"The manufacturing and beneficiation, mining sectors and the renewable energy sectors all require U. S. investment as building these sectors will make the economy more sustainable and will contribute to growth," Battersby said.

"The infrastructure and energy sectors also require U. S. investment to ensure medium- to long-term sustainability. Food production and water management also require U. S. investment for the same reason," he told Xinhua.

In 2009, South Africa's exports to the U. S. were valued at 41. 3 billion rand (6.16 billion U. S. dollars) and rose to 52.4 billion rand (7.82 billion dollars) last year.

The South Africa marketing official said AGOA is "a great trade and investment opportunity for sub-Saharan Africa" because it affords duty-free access for sub-Saharan African countries to the markets of the U. S. and offers the opportunity of increasing volumes of trade and being more competitive in relation to those countries that do no have AGOA access.

"Become more productive," Battersby said, when asked of what he urge the continent to do to stimulate economic growth under AGOA and other international partnerships and membership such as BRICS, an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, a forum that provides its members with opportunities to network and to initiate economic arrangements.

"(African countries) must be more strategic in their industrialization strategy, and more focused in the nature of their exports. They should also focus on ramping up their manufacturing and beneficiation industries," Battersby told Xinhua.

AGOA assists African governments, businesses and prospective entrepreneurs by providing trade preferences to countries that are making progress in implementing economic reforms.

According to U. S. Bureau of African Affairs spokesperson Hilary Renner under the arrangement eligible countries can export "thousands of products" to the U. S. duty-free and nearly 6, 500 products are covered -- "from apparel and automobiles to footwear and fruit."

"AGOA certainly offers the opportunity for greater global integration in the economy for the sub-Saharan economies and it offers greater opportunities for regional integration and intra- African trade by creating the opportunity for greater economic growth and diversification of national economies," Battersby told Xinhua.

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