NAMPO: Voting DA in 2024 will save AGOA and South African agriculture from the ANC

Issued by John Steenhuisen MP – Leader of the Democratic Alliance
17 May 2023 in News

The DA is at NAMPO today to send a clear message to South Africa: The DA will fight to save and expand our AGOA trade benefits to protect and grow South Africa’s agricultural sector.

The best way to ensure our AGOA benefits are retained and expanded is to vote DA in 2024.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is US legislation which gives duty-free access to the US market for African states. AGOA is up for review in 2025 when it expires, but the US can unilaterally review our benefits sooner.

Many of the products we export are only competitive due to our AGOA benefits. If we lose them in 2025 or before, whole industries could collapse, taking thousands of jobs with them.

Under AGOA, South Africa exports R30 billion worth of goods to the US that we would not otherwise be able to export. This trade is now at serious risk. Losing it would do the people of SA severe socioeconomic harm at a time when 80% of households are struggling to put food on the table, 12 million people are unemployed, and over the half the country is trapped in poverty.

In SA’s agricultural sector, AGOA particularly benefits our wine, citrus, table grape and ice cream industries, but also nuts, processed vegetables, industrial alcohol and fruit and vegetable juices. We now stand to lose R802 million of wine exports, R1.5 billion of citrus and table grape exports, and R519 billion ice cream exports annually, for example.

In 2015, a local study found that 62 000 jobs in South Africa were due to our AGOA benefits. That number will be significantly higher now since SA trade with the US has approximately tripled since then. But AGOA is conditional on behaviour that upholds human rights and democracy.

The ANC government should be doing everything possible now to ensure South Africa’s AGOA benefits are extended. Instead, by aligning with Russia over its invasion of sovereign Ukraine, the ANC is all but guaranteeing they will be pulled. And it’s not just the AGOA trade benefits under threat. The US, EU and UK purchase 36% of SA’s exports while Russia just 0.2%. Russia accounts for just 2% of all SA’s agricultural exports.

By aligning South Africa with Russia, President Ramaphosa and his government are betraying South Africa once again, putting ANC interests ahead of the interests of the people of South Africa. The only logical explanation is that Russia is funding the ANC. The ANC received R30 million recently from Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, partner to the ANC’s funding front Chancellor House in United Manganese of Kalahari. And this is likely only the tip of the iceberg with most funding likely being undeclared.

While Kenya is negotiating a trade agreement with the US that will provide them with significant benefits over and above what they achieve under AGOA, the ANC government seems not to care at all that they’ve put SA’s AGOA benefits at serious risk. Indeed, they are preparing to host Russia President Vladimir Putin at the BRICS summit in August, despite an ICC warrant out for his arrest.

Actions speak louder than words. President Ramaphosa says that South Africa is “non-aligned”, but his government’s actions make it very clear that they have aligned our country with Russia, despite the enormous social and economic consequences for the people of South Africa.

The ANC government has provided no concrete answers to US allegations that arms were loaded onto a sanctioned Russian ship, the Lady R, at the Simonstown naval base in Cape Town in December. Yet despite the serious risk this situation poses to our AGOA benefits, the Chief of the SA Army is in Moscow now with his Russian counterpart, to work on issues of military cooperation.

These are not the actions of a truly “non-aligned” country. President Ramaphosa has allowed ANC vested interests to seriously undermine SA’s trade relations with the West.

Laughably, President Ramaphosa now seeks to position himself as a peace broker between Ukraine and Russia. This will remain a bad joke until he comes clean on what was loaded onto the Lady R.

The DA is campaigning to protect SA’s AGOA benefits. We have spoken out unequivocally against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and killing of innocent civilians. A DA national government would seek to attract investment by aligning with the countries that do most business with us, and that uphold human rights and democratic principles.

Voting DA in 2024 will save AGOA and South African agriculture from the ANC.