Obama sets Agoa deadline. SA has until March 15 to comply, faces suspension.

The famous author of the classic ‘Treasure Island’ Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Sooner or later we all sit down to a banquet of consequences”. And there cannot be a more apt saying for where South Africa currently finds itself. The decisions, or rather the failure of the decisions being made, by certain individuals in power is starting to compound. Not even a week ago, trade and industry minister Rob Davies told journalists that Agoa discussions were concluded. Only for the public to wake up this morning to the news that the President of the United States Barack Obama has given South Africa until March 15 to fully comply with the requirements, or a suspension will be implemented. We all know global politics is a messy business but the R23 billion at risk if Agoa falls away is money South Africa is in dire need of and certain concessions must be made. – Stuart Lowman

By Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – South Africa has until March 15 to fully comply with the US over its meat imports, after US President Barack Obama on Monday ordered the suspension of duty-free treatment to all Agoa-eligible goods in the agricultural sector from South Africa, effective on that date.

Sources in the industry indicated to Fin24 that the suspension would only be implemented should South Africa not fully comply with the requirements.

US_South_Africa

The announcement comes after South Africa failed to meet the December 31 deadline set by Obama to finalise negotiations around US meat imports, failing which he said he would suspend certain duty free tariffs on goods that benefit from the African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa).

The act, 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.

“I have determined that South Africa is not meeting the requirements described in section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 Act and that suspending the application of duty-free treatment to certain goods would be more effective in promoting compliance by South Africa with such requirements than terminating the designation of South Africa as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country,” he said in a proclamation released on Monday.

Read also: Hope Springs: Davies prevails, SA/US renew AGOA’s at-risk agric products

“Accordingly, I have decided to suspend the application of duty-free treatment for all Agoa-eligible goods in the agricultural sector from South Africa for purposes of section 506A of the 1974 Act, effective on March 15, 2016.”

“The application of duty-free treatment for all Agoa-eligible goods in the agricultural sector from South Africa is suspended for purposes of section 506A of the 1974 Act, effective on March 15, 2016.”

While Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies announced on January 7 that the countries had completed negotiations on the various meat imports, US Ambassador Michael Froman warned there were more hurdles for SA.

Read also: SA agric exports to US losing AGOA duty-free status – further R23bn at risk

“While we celebrate the progress we have made in resolving the outstanding technical issues, the true test of our success will be based on the ability of South African consumers to buy American product in local stores,” he said on January 8.

“We will be working to ensure that this final benchmark of entry of poultry is achieved so that South Africa continues to have the advantage of full Agoa benefits, including by working with the US and South African industries to expedite the shipment of eligible product as soon as possible.

“Our goal is to complete this effort so that South Africa can maintain the full and continued enjoyment of Agoa’s benefits.” – Fin24

Source: http://www.fin24.com/Economy/breaking-obama-announces-sa-suspension-from-agoa-on-march-15-20160112

U.S. Says South Africa May Lose AGOA Trade Benefits in March

By Andre Janse van Vuuren

(Bloomberg) — South Africa could lose duty-free access for its farming exports to the U.S. by the middle of March if it fails to implement an agreement on meat trade with the world’s biggest market.

The U.S. will suspend South Africa’s preferential access for agricultural products under the African Growth and Opportunity Act from March 15, according to a proclamation issued on Monday by President Barack Obama. The statement followed a deal announced Jan. 7 between the two countries on issues related to health standards on U.S. chicken exports to South Africa.

“Suspending the application of duty-free treatment to certain goods would be more effective in promoting compliance by South Africa with such requirements than terminating the designation of South Africa as a beneficiary,” the U.S. said in the proclamation.

South Africa has been under pressure to reach agreement with the U.S. to open its market to American meat in order to retain benefits under the AGOA accord, which favors 39 African nations by eliminating import levies on more than 7,000 products ranging from textiles to manufactured items. To remain beneficiaries, countries are required to cut barriers to U.S. trade and investment, operate a market-based economy, protect workers’ rights and implement economic policies to reduce poverty.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies told reporters on Jan. 7 he expects South Africa to continue participating in AGOA without interruptions after reaching a deal with the U.S. on health standards for meat.

“With the substantive points resolved we are able to move to the final benchmark: Testing the new system to make certain American poultry can be made available on store shelves in South Africa,” a U.S. Trade Representative spokesman told Bloomberg BNA by e-mail. The country will “allow sufficient time for our product to enter South Africa and are making sure with stakeholders in both countries to ensure this happens quickly so South Africa’s AGOA benefits can continue uninterrupted.”

(Visited 17 times, 1 visits today)