Trade relations SA US
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