Zuma in Washington for US-Africa summit

Washington - President Jacob Zuma and a ministerial delegation will spend three days in the United States trying to encourage more trade and investment between the two countries.

Zuma, who arrived in the US capital Washington DC on Sunday, will be leading the South African delegation at the US-Africa Leaders' Summit hosted by President Barack Obama.

"The summit provides an opportunity to promote increased cooperation. On Africa-US trade and investment as well as cooperation on peace and security, infrastructure development and other key sectors," presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said.

"South Africa sees immense value in the Power Africa initiative of president Obama and an opportunity in it to promote Africa's energy projects as part of the continent's important infrastructure development programme."

The South African delegation would also spend time arguing why the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) should be renewed and why the country should be included in it.

Earlier this week, Minister Rob Davies, who was attending the summit, said South Africa wanted Agoa renewed for 15 years as it would have a positive effect on investor confidence.

Agoa is a non-reciprocal preferential scheme, which applies only to United States imports from eligible Sub-Saharan Africa countries, of which South Africa is part. It was signed into law on May 18, 2000. It is a act of the US Congress, which will decide next year whether to renew it.

In advocating for its renewal Davies said the total combined trade between South Africa and the US last year R130bn. There were also around 600 US countries active in South Africa.

Davies would be attending the Agoa ministerial meeting on Monday.

Maharaj said it was estimated that about 95% of South African exports gained access into the US duty-free through Agoa.

On Monday, Zuma would attend a breakfast at the US Chamber of Commerce where he would engage with chief executives as part of the US-South African Chamber of Commerce African business initiative session.

"This interaction gives provides an opportunity to discuss ways further enhancing trade relations," said Maharaj.

"The session is important to for South Africa given that 600 US companies do business in South Africa, and also given the fact that the economy , especially economic growth and job creation, has been declared as apex priorities in the country."

Zuma would be accompanied by Davies, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters and State Security Minister David Mahlobo.

Roads throughout downtown Washington were closing for the summit and security at many of the hotels were beefed up as delegations from around Africa occupied them.

On Wednesday, US national security advisor Susan Rice said the country would do everything to make the summit a success and change Americans' perception about Africa.

"We have much more work to do to change outdated mindsets in which Africa is often marginalised," she said.

"Too many Americans still only see conflict, disease and poverty, and not the extraordinary diverse Africa brimming with innovation that's driving its own development."

The US needed to acknowledge that African economies were already taking off and that the US could do more to compete to be a full partner in Africa's success, Rice said.

Nearly 50 African presidents and prime ministers were scheduled to attend the summit.

* Flight and hotel costs for Sapa's reporter covering the summit were paid by the presidency.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot