Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies is in Washington DC in the US where the 17th Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum kicked off today.
The forum said the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) will focus on the implementation of AGOA, as well as, strategies for deepening the US-Sub-Saharan Africa trade and investment relationship.
The AGOA Forum is an annual forum taking place on an alternating basis between Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States.
The theme for this year’s two-day Forum is “Forging New Strategies for US-Africa Trade and Investment”.
AGOA is a unilateral US trade preference programme that provides duty-free quota-free treatment for over 6 400 tariff lines from 40 AGOA-eligible sub-Sahara African countries, including South Africa into the United States market.
South Africa is the largest non-oil AGOA-beneficiary country exporting products such as automobiles and auto parts, agricultural products, chemicals, steel and aluminium products, among others.
Davies says the Forum provides an important platform to discuss how to preserve the AGOA preferences, as well as, how the programme can support regional integration efforts on the continent, especially the regional value chains in light of the recent signature of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement.
The Minister said AGOA has resulted in a relatively balanced, growing, diversified and mutually beneficial trade relationship between South Africa and the United States.
Following an Industry Ministers meeting held in Magaliesburg last week, Davies said AGOA is not a negotiated agreement.
“It’s a series of concessions offered to countries, an act of [US] Congress. There will be a lot of discussions. AGOA underpins a relatively balanced trading agreement between us [and the US] and we are saying if it isn’t broke it needs no fixing so that’s our message.”
In March 2016, government announced that it had concluded negotiations on poultry, beef and pork with the United States, a move that brought to a close months of discussions with the US on the terms required for South Africa to secure its position in AGOA.
In November 2015, then US President Barack Obama announced that the duty-free entry into the US of South Africa’s agricultural exports under AGOA would end if South Africa’s health restrictions on the import of US poultry, beef and pork were not lifted by 4 January. However, the deadline was extended to 15 March 2016.
AGOA was reauthorized in June 2015 for 10 years until 2025, with South Africa’s inclusion.
The meeting will conclude on Thursday. – SAnews.gov.za