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South Africa to put forward ‘strong argument’ in public bid to remain AGOA beneficiary

South Africa to put forward ‘strong argument’ in public bid to remain AGOA beneficiary
Rob Davies (Credit: Trevor Samson)
Published date:
Tuesday, 04 August 2015
Linda Ensor

South Africa will be putting forward a strong argument in a public hearing in Washington DC on Friday that it should continue to be a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).

The public hearings are part of the out-of-cycle review of SA’s eligibility as a beneficiary, which was required in the new Agoa signed by US President Barack Obama last month. The review undertaken by the US Trade Representative has to take place within 30 days of the promulgation of the act.

South African representatives will be making the presentation and will convey the strong message that was agreed upon by Agoa stakeholders at a meeting convened by the Department of Trade and Industry last week.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies briefed Parliament’s trade and industry portfolio committee on Tuesday on the "confident" message that SA would put across. It would emphasise that SA had an open economy with a sound judicial and constitutional system that provided protection for investments. It met all the eligibility criteria to remain an Agoa beneficiary for the next 10 years.

The minister said Agoa had resulted in a more balanced and mutually beneficial trade relationship with the US, which created thousands of jobs in both countries. The local citrus and automotive industries in particular had benefited from the non-reciprocal agreement.

Removing SA as a beneficiary would reduce its benefits for the rest of sub-Saharan Africa as it had served to promote regional value-chains.

Mr Davies disagreed with the view that SA as a more developed, middle-income country should not benefit from Agoa. It was a developing country, he said.

SA had also made significant progress in addressing the US’s bilateral investment concerns.

Progress had been made in dealing with the sanitary and phytosanitary obstacles to the importing of US poultry, beef and pork and in finalising the agreement to allow for the importing of 65,000 tons annually of US chicken free of the anti-dumping duty.

Mr Davies said the outbreak of avian flu in 20 of the 54 US states had complicated discussions, which were now focused on a regional agreement to avoid SA importing the disease. He said if SA was removed from Agoa, it would withdraw from the poultry agreement.

Mr Davies said he had held discussions with Police Minister Nathi Nhleko on the contentious Private Security Amendment Bill, which has been waiting on President Jacob Zuma’s desk for more than a year.

The department’s special envoy on Agoa, Faizel Ismail, noted that SA and the US had an excellent trade and investment relationship, which had begun to deepen and expand. The US was looking to SA as a base for its expansion into Africa.

He did not believe there was any major issues emerging from the US that were likely to block SA’s continued membership of Agoa.

SA exports to USA


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