TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

South Africa's Minister Davies confident of AGOA renewal for South Africa

Tuesday, 04 August 2015

Source: Fin24 (South Africa, Media24)

AGOA supports regional integration in Africa and removing SA would diminish the programme, Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Rob Davies said on Tuesday.

South Africa will get an opportunity to present a strong case for its continued participation in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) at the public hearing in Washington on Friday, he said at a briefing of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry.

Agoa is a non-reciprocal prefer trial scheme, which applies only to US imports from eligible sub-Saharan African countries.

It is an act of the US Congress, which will decide whether to renew it with SA or not. SA wants it renewed for another 10 to 15 years.

A public hearing is scheduled to take place in Washington DC on Friday where South Africa will make written and oral presentations.

"An Agoa stakeholder meeting was convened by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) in Pretoria last Friday where we agreed on an approach to the public hearing. Government and other stakeholders agreed to coordinate their messaging to the public hearing,” said Davies.

He added that the SA submission will argue that the country is eligible for continued participation in Agoa for five mains reasons.

“First of all, Agoa has contributed to building a mutually beneficial partnership between South Africa and the United States. To this end, Agoa has helped to transform the trade relationship between SA and the US from one based mainly on exports of commodities to that based on more value-added trade in manufactured products," said Davies.

"Agoa has created 100 000 jobs in the US and 62 000 in SA. Therefore, Agoa is a win-win for both SA and the US.”

Davies said Agoa also contributes to the fight against poverty, unemployment and inequality in SA.

"SA disagrees with the view that it is a more developed country and should possibly be removed from Agoa. The reality is that SA is currently facing the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Agoa has helped in the critical area of job creation in SA, amongst others,” said Davies.

He further said that the fact that SA has made significant and continual progress in addressing bilateral trade and investment concerns of the US was one of the reasons why the country’s participation in Agoa should be continued.  

These concerns include complex matters related to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues on poultry, beef and pork, and the export of US poultry to SA.

“Lastly, SA is a relatively open economy and trade and investment relations between SA and the US have continued to grow and deepen during the period under Agoa. Bilateral mechanisms, such as the Annual Trade and Investment forum (Tifa) have provided an excellent forum for the resolution of trade and investment concerns," said Davies.

"Our common view is that South Africa meets all the eligibility criteria to remain a beneficiary of Agoa for the next ten years.”

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