TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

AGOA: 'SA doing all it can'

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Source: NYSE Post (USA)

He said the country had committed to cutting barriers to U.S. goods under AGOA, but had not followed through.

US President Barack Obama has given South Africa 60 days to show it is meeting the requirements of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) before he imposes normal tariffs on South African agricultural products.

"Although South Africa has to date failed to meet critical benchmarks required to address these issues, it continues to express an interest in resolving US concerns", Obama said. AGOA, renewed by USA lawmakers in June, eliminates import levies on more than 7 000 products ranging from textiles to manufactured items and benefits 39 sub-Saharan African nations.

"South Africa has been willing to use USA preferential trade programs but is unwilling to extend even customary equitable treatment to imports of pork from the United States", NPPC President Ron Prestage said in a statement.

Shipments under the agreement accounted for more than a fifth of the nation's exports to the U.S. previous year, according to data compiled by the Tralac Trade Law Centre (TRALAC), based in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town.

"South Africa must take the necessary steps to resolve outstanding barriers to US poultry immediately if its AGOA benefits are to be preserved", the lawmakers said in a statement.

South Africa has done all it can to retain access to AGOA, said South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies in September, IndependentOnline reports.

"We do not take this decision lightly, and, in fact, have been working hard over many months - indeed years - to help South Africa avoid such action". A lot of money and effort has been invested in developing markets for South African exports to the U.S. and all of that will be lost if South Africa's participation is suspended.

According to the DTI, good progress has also been made between the SA and U.S. vets over the past few months on the drafting of the necessary trade and animal health protocols for poultry, beef and pork, and work is nearly complete. "Government is playing a high stakes game of chicken with the USA government", he says.

The USA issued a notification, which gave South Africa 60 days to save its AGOA benefits. The minister says South Africa was under the impression an agreement would be reached as negotiations were still underway. Congress ordered the an "out-of-cycle review" to determine whether South Africa - by far the largest user of AGOA benefits - was eligible to continue enjoying them.

"In order to grow we have to make our markets accessible to other countries. In this regard the USA is a very valuable partner", he says. 

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