Trade re­la­tions SA US

Finweek English Edition - - IN THE NEWS -

TThe cur­rent term of Agoa is com­ing to an end next year. Are there ef­forts to ex­tend it beyond next year?

It is cer­tainly our hope, yes. We’re work­ing very closely with Congress and within the ad­min­is­tra­tion to support ef­forts to ex­tend the leg­is­la­tion. As you know, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama an­nounced when he was here last year that we’ll see a re­newal of Agoa, but it is ul­ti­mately Congress that will make the decision of how it will be re­newed and what changes will be made to the leg­is­la­tion. There’s cur­rently a rade agree­ments are a two-way street and the United States is look­ing for a level play­ing field in its trade re­la­tions with South Africa. This was the un­equiv­o­cal mes­sage from Linda Thomas-Green­field, Amer­ica’s As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary for the Bureau of African Af­fairs, dur­ing an of­fi­cial visit to SA on 25 Oc­to­ber.

She spoke about the ex­ten­sion of the Africa Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act (Agoa), which has been ex­tremely ben­e­fi­cial to SA, as well as about our in­vest­ment cli­mate and ef­forts to con­tain the out­break of Ebola in West Africa. ma­jor push to get the leg­is­la­tion on the agenda after the midterm con­gres­sional elec­tions in Novem­ber, but again t hi s i s s ome­thing that is done via Congress. We’ll cer­tainly pro­vide the support and en­cour­age­ment to get the leg­is­la­tion passed.

Among some fac­tions in the US Congress there have been calls for South Africa’s grad­u­a­tion out of Agoa. Could you elab­o­rate on this?

Grad­u­a­tion is a good thing. I’ve heard that coun­tries are con­cerned about grad­u­at­ing from Agoa, but i t means those coun­tries have ac­com­plished a cer­tain level of de­vel­op­ment and pros­per­ity and they don’t need the spe­cial ben­e­fits that Agoa pro­vides. If South Africa has not reached that point yet, you are cer­tainly close to grad­u­a­tion and I think that’s a good thing.

In the same fac­tions there is un­hap­pi­ness in cer­tain cir­cles about SA’s an­tag­o­nis­tic stance to­wards the West in favour of Brics coun­tries and the Mid­dle East.

I would say that we have a very pro­gres­sive re­la­tion­ship with the South African gov­ern­ment. We have a num­ber of ar­eas of mu­tual in­ter­est and we con­tinue to work closely. The South African gov­ern­ment has been an ac­tive par­tic­i­pant in peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions on the con­ti­nent and we have sup­ported their ef­forts in do­ing that. And we have a very strong trade part­ner­ship. We’re your third­largest trad­ing part­ner and Agoa is very ben­e­fi­cial to SA – it amounts to some­where around $15bn in trade. So this is a pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship that we hope to con­tinue.

Are there con­crete moves on your part to get a more re­cip­ro­cal trade agree­ment in place with SA?

We see trade as a two-way street. And we want to see a level play­ing field for Amer­i­can in­vestors and

Linda Thomas-Green­field

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