Economy

AGOA breakthrough for South Africa, US

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US Trade Representative Michael Froman delivers remarks on the future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC. PHOTO | AFP

Summary

  • US Trade Representative says true test of the agreement’s success will be based on the ability of South African consumers to buy American products in local stores

The African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) impasse between the United States and South Africa over key health and safety issues has been resolved with the country expected to import 65,000 tonnes of meat from the US.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman said that while they celebrate the progress made in resolving the outstanding technical issues, the true test of the agreement’s success will be based on the ability of South African consumers to buy American products in local stores.

“We will be working to ensure that this final benchmark of entry of poultry is achieved so that South Africa continues to have the advantage of full AGOA benefits, including by working with the US and South African industries to expedite the shipment of eligible product as soon as possible,” Mr Froman said.

South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies on Thursday announced that the two countries completed negotiations on the various meat imports, with the news coming as a huge relief for many industry players.

Earlier this week, the country’s Chamber of Commerce expressed concern over the AGOA stalemate.

The agreement will see South Africa import tonnes of meat including red meat and pork after Washington had argued there were unfair barriers to the products.

Mr Froman hailed South Africa saying the agreement was made possible because of the government’s constructive efforts over the last several months.

South Africa missed an important deadline set by President Barack Obama to conclude the negotiations by December 31, 2015.

There were fears that Mr Obama would suspend South Africa from the crucial trade agreement on January 4.

AGOA, renewed by US 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.

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