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US must ‘utilise tools in AGOA to pressure SA’

US must ‘utilise tools in AGOA to pressure SA’
Published date:
Friday, 15 May 2015
Author:
Simon Barber

The US administration must make "aggressive" use of tools in the updated African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) to pressure SA to comply with its conditions, senator Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate finance committee, said on Thursday.

The Utah Republican spoke ahead of a 97-1 Senate vote to extend for 10 years Agoa’s nonreciprocal trade preferences for African countries that meet its eligibility requirements. The House of Representatives is expected to adopt its own version of the legislation early in June.

The Senate version requires the office to the US trade representative to launch a review of SA’s eligibility within 30 days of President Barack Obama signing the renewal bill into law. The review is not mandatory in the House bill.

Mr Hatch accused SA of reneging on its commitments as a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). He also voiced concern about government moves to require majority local ownership of security companies and to "shortcomings" in SA’s intellectual property laws.

Under an amendment introduced by Senator Johnny Isakson, the Georgia Republican who has been championing the cause of US chicken exporters aggrieved by SA anti-dumping duties, the US trade representative must consider whether SA is "making continual progress" towards respecting private property and "minimising government interference" in the economy.

Earlier in the week, it looked as though Agoa renewal would fall victim to a revolt by Democratic senators seeking to deny Mr Obama authority to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement the US is negotiating with Asian and Latin American nations. On Wednesday, a compromise was reached allowing Agoa to be voted on separately.

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