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By Paul Richardson
South Africa asked the US government to consider an early extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act to help stimulate investment across the continent, Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel said.
The request was made during a visit by South African officials to the US earlier this month to discuss the trade pact and finalize preparations for an AGOA forum that’s scheduled to be hosted in SA this year. An early renewal of AGOA in its current form would be preferable to a revised agreement that may take time to conclude, Patel said in an interview with the Johannesburg-based Business Day newspaper.
“If we extend AGOA largely in its current form, we can incrementally improve the terms over the next few years,” the paper cited Patel as saying. “Many African countries are keen on an early extension because it gives investors certainty to commit additional investment on the continent.”
The plea comes after several US lawmakers called on President Joe Biden’s administration to reconsider whether South Africa should continue to benefit from AGOA. Besides being angered over South Africa’s foreign policy stance — the country has maintained what it terms a non-aligned position toward Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — some legislators argue that Africa’s most-industrialized nation is too developed to participate in the program.
AGOA expires in 2025 and US officials have previously said the qualifying criteria for beneficiaries could be revised or the program replaced.
South Africa ships cars and agricultural produce to the US under the accord. Last year, it exported $2.7 billion of goods using AGOA and the so-called Generalized System of Preferences. (Bloomberg)
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