Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says what African producers seek is increased access to markets.
She was speaking on the sidelines of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum held in Johannesburg on Friday.
The Minister explained that producers on the African continent seek even greater access to markets in order to thrive.
“We’ve got a lot of production that is coming from Africa and what we are seeking is more access to markets. There’s been a tendency – and business and organised labour, and also civil society, raised this concern – that the largest trade in AGOA is taking place in minerals and raw products instead of getting the beneficiation.
“We need to get the beneficiation. We need investors to invest here. But there are products from SMMEs, who are now given certification in terms of rules of origin, that they are done on the African continent and therefore they must have access to market there.
“Our agricultural products, for example, were part of the issues that were raised… We’ve got a lot of products not only for the US market but for the global market from the African continent,” Ntshavheni said.
The Minister reiterated President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for an extended period of extension for the AGOA initiative.
“[During the forum] there were readouts from the various sectors… the private sector, organised labour, civil society, women representatives and the trade ministry and all of them collectively have reiterated the need to make the AGOA extension not a short extension but a longer extension, with a proposal of a 20-year extension so that it can be what the President [Cyril Ramaphosa] deemed the long haul.
“That gives certainty to investors and you can then look in the longer term and a bigger investment. That’s the gist of us being here and we are happy that despite the challenges, the 20th edition of the AGOA Forum is taking place in South Africa,” she said.
The Minister emphasised that Africa is on a growth path that will lead to a strong future.
“We are determined as the African continent that we are going to work together to make sure that Africa is the hub of development. Africa, by 2030, will be the continent with the largest population, therefore it will be the largest market for any global goods and services and therefore, we are going to rely on ourselves,” Ntshavheni said.
The Minister responded to questions related to perceptions of “shaky” relations between South Africa and the US.
“South Africa-US relationships are not shaky. We have South Africans who speak very loudly and express their views, and the Americans also do the same. But the relationship between South Africa and the US has always been solid because they are one of our largest trading partners and we are one of their largest trading partners on the African continent,” Ntshavheni said. – SAnews.gov.za