TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

South Africa's trade minister Davies: 'Africa is booming'

Friday, 03 August 2012

Source: Fin24 (South Africa)

Pretoria - Africa is emerging as the next economic growth powerhouse after Asia, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Friday.

The continent's growth path had been boosted by major infrastructure development and improved financial governance, he told an Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) conference in Pretoria.

"It's widely and increasingly recognised that Africa is the next growth frontier. The whole world is being battered by the headwinds of the global economic crisis and (also) battered by the headwinds from the slowdown in Asia," Davies said.

"If we look beyond the immediate problems that we are confronting, if we look to the medium and longer term, we can see that Africa is emerging as the major frontier after Asia."

A number of factors underpinned this growth.

These included a mineral products boom, a consumption boom, some infrastructure development, and an improvement of economic governance, he said.

The AGOA arrangement, first passed by the US Congress in 2000, allows eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa to export their goods into the US without paying import duties.

The legislation approved on Thursday extends the AGOA arrangement to 2015 and makes provision for Africa's newest country, South Sudan.

In a brief appearance at the summit, US ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips said that AGOA had become significant both for his country's and Africa's economies.

He said African countries, combined, had exported $53bn (about R438bn) worth of merchandise into the US without paying import duty.

Last year, SA exported vehicles worth over $2bn (about R16bn) to the US, said Gips.

The US envoy congratulated Team South Africa's thriving run at the 2012 Olympic which had so far netted three gold medals.

On Thursday, the US Congress voted to renew the trade arrangement, a move hailed as a major security for millions of jobs in Africa's clothing sector.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the legislation on a voice vote and sent it to President Barack Obama, who will sign it into law.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Africa on a seven-nation tour, and will be in South Africa on Tuesday.