US stalls decision to suspend SA from Agoa

File: AFP
File: AFP

Cape Town – The US has stalled its decision on whether to suspend SA from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), a US magazine reported on Tuesday.

On Monday Department of Trade and Industry (dti) Minister Rob Davies informed reporters of the possible suspension of SA from the Agoa and said that the move would hugely affect the agricultural sector.

Agoa, renewed by US lawmakers in June, eliminates import levies on more than 7 000 products ranging from textiles to manufactured items and benefits 39 sub-Saharan African nations. Total two-way trade between South Africa and the US was about R217 billion last year.

According to Politico the US on Monday decided to put off its final decision on whether to suspend duty-free benefits for South African agricultural products under the Act.

The US is still expected to make a final decision this week, Politico reported.

Spokesperson for the office of the US Trade Representative Trevor Kincaid told Business Day that "outstanding issues" had not been resolved when the deadline expired at midnight on December 31.

South African Poultry Association (Sapa) CEO Kevin Lovell told Fin24 that the Salmonella testing protocol for chicken used by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries was the main issue under dispute.

He said Salmonella testing protocol used by DAFF was based on that of the EU and complied with standards set by the World Organisation for Animal Health.

According to Lovell, the SA poultry industry was subjected to multiple tests throughout the value-chain while US poultry could only be assessed when it reached SA as the final product.

The Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AMIE) of SA on Tuesday criticised Sapa for alleged protectionism within the local chicken industry and having a "disproportionate role" in negotiations with the US.

In a statement AMIE CEO David Wolpert said American poultry was constantly being "demonised" and that it was "already subject to more stringent testing than SA products".

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