SACCI: AGOA-gate – SA’s game-breaker or light at the end of the tunnel?

SACCI press statement

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry is very concerned by the statement made by the President of the United States that serious consideration is being given to excluding South Africa from several AGOA benefits with an ultimatum of 60 days being given to address the impasse over chicken imports. This is contrary to the assurances that Minister Davies gave to the country on 11 October that its renewal was on track.

Chicken_house

While it appears that it is not intended to exclude South Africa as a whole the fact that agricultural products such as oranges, wine, macadamia nuts and citrus juice would be targeted will nevertheless have a hugely damaging impact on the trade balance between South Africa and the United States. Taking into account that the value of exports of only these products is in the region of R140 to R150 million per annum, the loss of this revenue to the country and the impact that it could have on agriculture is significant.

South Africa has been given a life line in that US Trade Representative Michael Froman has said that South Africa could still avoid the suspension, which could cost it up to $7 million in lost benefits, if it met benchmarks to eliminate barriers.  However, if we fail to meet the requirements within the next two months we will lose the benefits.

Read also: DA: AGOA-gate – agri job losses on Rob Davies hands 

SACCI therefore appeals to government to engage the United States in order to reach agreement on meeting the benchmarks to eliminate the barriers to US poultry, pork and beef within this timeframe so as to avoid the severer penalties that will otherwise be imposed.

SA Citrus Industry Media statement

The citrus industry is disappointed that the US Administration has made a recommendation to suspend certain trade benefits for South Africa, under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

What makes this decision particularly frustrating is that citrus has been a shining example of what the US Administration sought to achieve through AGOA:  real development with job creation and the establishment of vibrant rural economies.

For fresh citrus exports to the US, the impact of a withdrawal of benefits would mean South African citrus losing competitiveness with its competitors – most noticeably Peru, Uruguay and Chile – all of whom have preferential trade agreements.

The CGA is confident that the South African government is working hard, together with their US government counterparts, to address the outstanding issues around meat imports into South Africa.

A successful resolution must be the only outcome. Our economy can do without the negative impact this would have on economic growth – not to mention the human misery of potential job losses.

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