_: The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies says South African Government would like to see a rollover or an extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for a reasonable period of time beyond 2015. He was addressing delegates at the AGOA beneficiaries’ conference held in Pretoria today.
The purpose of the conference was to raise awareness of the importance of AGOA for South Africa as well as the United States (US) and to amplify South Africa’s lobbying effort on the need for the programme to be extended beyond 2015.
Minister Davies said in terms of bilateral relations AGOA has sustained a pattern of trade between the two countries which is mutually beneficial and that trade took a knock in 2009 as a result of the global economic crisis but it has recovered.
“The US is our third trade partner, and our second partner in terms of destination of our exports and also a very significant investor in South Africa with about six hundred companies operating in the South African economy,” said Davies.
He also said when compared with other AGOA beneficiaries, South Africa have a broader range of products and greater diversity of exports into the US and that speaks to the challenge which Africa faces in terms of diversifying and industrialising the continent.
Ambassador of the United States in South Africa, His Excellency Donald Gips said the Obama administration is committed to the AGOA agreement and its importance.
“We are not doing this because we are nice people, but it’s in our own interest and we want to see growth and development in Africa. I’m huge believer in AGOA and I believe it will create an environment for US businesses to take opportunities provided for in the agreement,” said Gips.
Giving a perspective from South Africa on the review of AGOA, Ambassador of South Africa in Washington HE Ebrahim Rasool said eight billion of exported high value added product has gone through the AGOA agreement. “Without the AGOA provision consequences for our South African companies could have been enormous and that we can’t afford to be complacent anymore,” said Rasool
AGOA is a unilateral trade preference programme enacted by the United States in 2000. The programme also has a Third Country Fabric Provision (TCFP) from which South Africa has been excluded since the beginning. Inclusion of South Africa in the TCFP would enable South Africans exporters to enjoy AGOA benefits for clothing and to source clothing inputs from countries outside Africa.