SA, US committed to working together

Monday, October 5, 2009

Johannesburg - An agreement signed between business stakeholders in South Africa and the United States (US) signifies the willingness of both countries to work together, Trade Minister Rob Davies said on Monday.

"That was a very, very important message from both sides of the new administration," said Minister Davies, who was briefing the media on Monday after a trip to the United States to attend a business summit.

The agreement was signed by Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and the Corporate Council for Africa (CCA) last week.

The CCA is aimed at strengthening and facilitating the commercial relationship between the US and the African continent. It works with governments, multilateral groups and business to improve the continent's trade and investment climate as well and to raise the profile of Africa in the US business community.

The minister also added that South Africa will now also focus on South-South trade as the economies of these countries were growing despite the global financial difficulties.

"Our major focus will be on South-South relations, these are countries that are growing despite the recession," he said.

The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) which is a US free trade regime for imports from Africa was also discussed during Monday's briefing. The Act, which offers tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets, was signed into law in 2008 and will expire in 2012.

The minister said that the South African government would like to see Agoa being rolled over for a number of years. "We wouldn't oppose a rollover. Our position is the extension of Agoa," said the minister.

African countries are concerned as to what will replace Agoa when the agreement ends in 2012.

He also said that the department is looking at coming up with a trade policy paper which will outline the general direction of South African policy. This he said for example includes a policy on tariffs