- African Growth and Opportunity Act
TRALAC - Trade Law Centre
You are here: Home/News/Article/New partnership with United States 'will be hard to resist'

New partnership with United States 'will be hard to resist'

New partnership with United States 'will be hard to resist'
US President Barack Obama with South African President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria, South Africa

Trade Profile South Africa - United States

$ 000, Year-to-date is Jan.-March, data direction is from US perspective

Published date:
Monday, 01 July 2013
Natasha Marrian

As democracies that stand for human rights, South Africa and the US should speak with one voice on international issues, says US President Barack Obama.

While South Africa and the US may share a passion for protecting human rights, the countries are, however, poles apart when it comes to tackling global challenges.

An example close to home is differences in the approach of the US and South Africa to the situation in Zimbabwe — while the US prefers sanctions, South Africa has opted for mediation. On Cuba, Syria, Libya and the Congo the two countries hold different views.

While bilateral ties are strong, the US and South Africa agreed at the weekend to "do a better job of communicating" on multinational issues, "to make sure that we anticipate potential areas of tension, that we understand ourselves clearly, that sometimes it’s important for us to be able to express to each other the way in which history shapes how we view some of these issues", Mr Obama said during a joint media briefing with Mr Zuma on Saturday.

"And I think the more dialogue we have on those issues I think because we are democracies that stand for human rights and stand for certain principles, the truth is we should be aligned internationally," Mr Obama said.

Mr Zuma and Mr Obama discussed a range of international issues during their brief talks at the Union Buildings on Saturday.

Mr Obama said while the two governments may not agree on everything, they had both seen the progress that could be made when they worked together.

"Given South Africa’s history and given what it represents to the world, and given the interests we share — as democracies that believe in constitutions and rule of law, and human rights and the dignities of all people — I believe that we can stand shoulder to shoulder for issues of security and justice and human rights," he said. "And I believe when the US and South Africa stand together on an issue in multilateral fora, it’s hard to resist."

His comments come at a time when South Africa is cementing its position in the Brics bloc alongside Brazil, Russia, India and China. South Africa and the continent played host to the Brics summit in Durban earlier this year.

South Africa is more aligned to its Brics partners on international issues — and economic and trade ties with them are growing rapidly.

Mr Obama’s visit to South Africa follows a state visit to the US from his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. The US has had to play catch-up with the Chinese and the Indians, who are already active in Africa. According to international reports Mr Jinping has visited three African countries since taking office in March, including South Africa, and former Chinese president Hu Jintao reportedly had been to 17 African nations in a single 10-month stretch between July 2006 and February 2007.

This is Mr Obama’s first visit to South Africa since taking office in 2008 — it comes during his second term after high expectations for a visit during his first term.

Mr Obama said the US was happy and "not threatened" by countries such as China, India, Russia and Turkey. They have also recognised Africa’s potential but he cautioned that dealings with them should be examined to ensure that they benefit Africa.

"I do think that it’s important for Africans to make sure that these interactions are good for Africa. If somebody says they want to come build something here, are they hiring African workers? If somebody says that they want to help you develop your natural resources, how much of the money is staying in Africa? If they say that they’re very interested in a certain industry, is the manufacturing and value-added done in Africa? Are they tolerating corruption that’s not benefiting the people but just benefiting a few at the top in their interactions with African countries?"

Mr Obama described South Africa as a "critical partner" and expressed a desire for the two countries to do more business together. Africa was on the rise and South Africa was at the forefront, he said.

He kicked off a whirlwind visit to South Africa on Saturday, after talks with Mr Zuma and a high-level government delegation.

Mr Obama said it was important for trade negotiations in the future to ensure a win-win situation for both South Africa and the US in terms of delivering jobs and opportunities.

Mr Zuma said during the talks South Africa had placed "bankable" projects on the table, ranging from infrastructure development to skills development for the youth.

He urged Mr Obama to encourage Africa’s "traditional supporters" not to "abandon their pledges to Africa" in light of the economic and financial challenges in the US and in the eurozone — two key South African trading partners.

Despite the protests against the visit by members of the African National Congress’s ally, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, he was received warmly by both the ANC and the government.

Read related news articles

South Africa walks a tightrope on US relations

South Africa has been conducting a high-wire act in its relations with the United States (US). It is maintaining friendships with Washington’s enemies like Russia, Iran and China while trying to avoid disrupting its economic relations with America. Tensions came closer than ever to breaking point this month as the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs passed the US-South Africa Bilateral Relations...

28 March 2024

Remarks by Deputy Treasury Secretary Adeyemo on the US-South Africa economic relationship

As Prepared for Delivery in Johannesburg, South Africa Thank you for the warm welcome. I want to express my gratitude to Consul General Spera and the American Chamber of Commerce for hosting me. I am honored to be joined today by South African Entrepreneurs that are building companies to unlock the economic potential of their country.  I owe my own presence here today to the inspiration I drew from South Africa. In the middle of the...

13 March 2024

South African president Ramaphosa meets with US congressional delegation

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa today, 21 February 2024, received for a visit from a bipartisan congressional delegation from the United States of America, in Tuynhuys, Cape Town. The delegation is visiting South Africa at the invitation of the Aspen Institute. The President and the US congressional delegation discussed the importance of the relationship between South Africa and the US, which manifests in strong economic,...

21 February 2024

US congress receives Bill to review South Africa relations

A bill has been submitted to the United States congress calling for a full review of the country’s bilateral relationship with South Africa following the International Court of Justice ruling that found it plausible that Israel has committed acts of genocide against Gaza. The bipartisan bill which was introduced by US Republican congressman John James and Democratic Party congressman Jared Moskowitz this week could threaten South...

09 February 2024

Fitch research unit expects better AGOA deal for South Africa

Fitch’s research arm, BMI, believes SA has done enough to get improved trade terms under the African Growth & Opportunity Act (Agoa), which it expects to be extended and modified before its expiry in September 2025. But it warns that the deal might be stillborn if Donald Trump is elected US president. The research think-tank said in a note it assigns a 65% probability that Agoa will not only be renewed but modified to the benefit of...

09 January 2024

South Africa: BLSA CEO calls for more companies to leverage AGOA opportunities

Many more South African companies could benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which gives eligible countries access to US markets free of tariff barriers, business organisation BusinessLeadership South Africa (BLSA) CEO Busi Mavuso writes in her weekly newsletter. Apart from mainstream formal sector businesses, there are opportunities to enable more entrepreneurs, including women-led...

20 November 2023

US ambassador: AGOA is an opportunity to deepen ties between the US and South Africa

President Joe Biden last December at the US-Africa Leaders Summit affirmed that the US will elevate its relationship with Africa. The future is Africa. One example is its youthful population: the median age on the continent is 19. By 2050, one in four people in the world will be in Africa. The US wants them to be healthy and wealthy. What happens in Africa will affect the rest of the globe — and we want to work together to ensure it is...

09 November 2023

US Senator Chris Coons proposes AGOA extension by 16 years, immediate review of SA’s AGOA eligibility

Powerful US Democratic Party Senator Chris Coons is circulating a discussion draft of a Bill to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) for 16 years that would also require an immediate “out-of-cycle” review of South Africa’s eligibility for Agoa. That could lead to South Africa being removed next year from the programme, which has provided considerable benefits to SA exporters to the US of cars, fruits and wine, in...

07 November 2023

AGOA benefits extend beyond trade [incl. VIDEO of Friday's opening session]

Economies in Sub-Saharan countries stand to benefit far more from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) than notable trade statistics, says President Cyril Ramaphosa. “AGOA enhances the diversification of African economies, enabling them to export value-added products. By enabling African countries to have preferential access to the US market, this opportunity incentivises African countries to develop and export value-added goods...

06 November 2023

South Africa pins its hopes on an early 2024 US Congress renewal of AGOA

South Africa’s government is hoping that the process to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) by the US Congress will be concluded by early 2024, ensuring that more than 20 African countries continue to have duty-free access to the world’s largest economy.   This is the first time that the South African government has given a timeline for when it hopes the US Congress might extend Agoa, which has been renewed twice...

05 November 2023

SA trade minister Patel expresses confidence at media briefing about South Africa’s continued inclusion in AGOA

Ahead of South Africa hosting the US-AfricaTrade and Economic Cooperation Forum – also called the AGOA Forum – from November 2 to 4, Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel on October 26 briefed the media on the state of readiness for the forum, expressing confidence that the South African government’s relations with the US were strong. Various South African stakeholders have been motivating for...

26 October 2023

You are here: Home/News/Article/New partnership with United States 'will be hard to resist'