Rob Davies positive US will renew growth act

2014-08-05 09:10

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Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies is optimistic that the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa) will be renewed by the United States Congress next year.

His optimism followed a meeting of African and US ministers.

Briefing journalists in the Willard Intercontinental hotel in Washington DC last night, Davies said although the final decision on this rested on a legislative process with the US Congress, “the members of the Congress who were present were people from both houses, from both sides of the aisle, and they all unanimously expressed the view that they would support the re-authorisation of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act more or less in its current form,” he said.

However, Davies issued a disclaimer, saying the exact time was uncertain but it was hoped it would happen before the end of the year.

“Until those steps have been taken we can’t be sure, but we think this forum has been a positive development along this way,” he said.

Davies added that there “appeared to be consensus” among the African ministers and their US counterparts.

President Jacob Zuma is set to meet with three US senators today at Capitol Hill to lobby them to argue for the renewal of the act.

There have been efforts in some quarters to delay its renewal. It has been argued that South Africa shouldn’t still be benefiting from the act providing for tariff-free trade because it was already a middle-income country.

Davies admitted that South Africa had benefited from the act because its economy is very diversified.

He said “there was consensus among delegates that the African continent needs to move up the value chain and diversify and industrialise”.

But he added that Agoa had benefited the American economy and job creation too.

Davies said there was “a high level of agreement on some matters” in yesterday’s meeting that there should be “a seamless early renewal of Agoa”.

South Africa wants the act, first passed in 2000, to be extended by another 15 years. The period would also make it easier for businesses to make investment decisions.

He said South Africa was committed “to resolving irritants on the American side”, such as restrictions on the export of beef and pork.

The White House said yesterday that US president Barack Obama was committed to a long-term renewal to increase market opportunities for Africa.

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