US embassy not spooked by land reform - Rob Davies

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has told Parliament that when his department met the United States embassy to discuss local matters, land expropriation was not the most prominent subject of discussion.

Moreover, Davies said, the potential nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) was never mentioned. 

In a written reply to questions from Members of Parliament on Wednesday, Davies said officials met with the US embassy three times between June and August to discuss bilateral trade and investment.

Democratic Alliance MP Dean Macpherson had asked Davies if the Department of Trade and Industry had met with the US embassy lately, and whether the mission expressed any concerns about recent proposed reforms.

Fresh recession

Having limped its way into a fresh technical recession, the South African economy has not been able to catch a break for most of this year.

Recently, United States President Donald Trump tweeted false information about farm killings and expropriation, which was followed by the rand falling.

Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) last month announced that it had proposed a bill for the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank.

Davies said the US had not expressed undue concern about the proposed reforms regarding land and that the SARB proposals were never discussed.

Trade tariffs

However, Davies said the parties at these meetings discussed the US Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminium imports into the US and their impact on South Africa’s African Growth and Opportunity Act benefits.

"The embassy emphasised that the US government would not be taking sides but had an interest in seeing a legal and constitutional resolution of the issue," Davies said.

Davies said the US State Department and the World Bank recognised the complexities of the land reform programme and its intention to ensure equitable distribution of land in South Africa, and thereby addressing poverty and inequality.

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