US aims to double trade with South Africa

2010-03-13 11:33

THE Obama administration is ­concerned about the heavy drop in trade between South Africa and the United States during the past year – a 32% fall in South African exports to the US and a 41% drop in imports due to the worldwide recession.

Suresh Kumar, appointed two weeks ago as US assistant secretary of commerce, led Obama’s first trade mission to South Africa this week with a clear goal: To double US trade with South Africa in the next two years. He told journalists in Johannesburg that before last year trade ­between South Africa and the US had grown consistently by 20% or more year-on-year and that that had to be ­restored. His aim was to foster trade both with South Africa and the rest of the continent “that creates jobs”.

Kumar did warn that US rules for trade would apply:
  • Africa had to free up intra-Africa trade by reducing and standardising import and export tariffs.
  • It had to ensure the free flow of goods through African ports and border posts.
  • Africa had to develop road and corridor infrastructure, a process that would contribute $1.1 billion (about R8 billion) to projects in sub-Saharan Africa this year.
  • Trade policies and practices also had to be transparent.
In an apparent jibe at the political furore centred on tender practices in South Africa, Kumar said the US would insist on “clean and fast” tender processes. ­

Emphasising the extent of US interest and commitment, Kumar added that more than 700 US companies were heavily invested in South Africa, more than in any other African country, and that those companies ­contributed 9% of this country’s gross domestic product.
­– Africa Desk

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