DA to lobby US trade representative for platform at upcoming AGOA Summit

Issued by Dr Dion George MP – DA Shadow Minister of Finance
26 Sep 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dr Dion George MP.

Today Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition (DTIC), Ebrahim Patel, delivered a progress report on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.

The briefing by the Department follows the official confirmation by United States Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, and Minister Patel that Johannesburg will host the 20th annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Summit from November 2-4.

The joint announcement dispelled prior concerns about the relocation of the summit to a different country in the face of Congressional concern over its location in South Africa following the ANC government veering off its stated non-aligned foreign policy.

The Summit will assemble representatives from respective AGOA-eligible countries, the United States, key regional economic organizations, private sectors, civil societies, and labor unions. Agenda items will explore avenues for fortifying US-Sub-Saharan Africa trade relations and strategies for sustainable, resilient economic development.

Minister Patel’s brief presentation to Parliament today lacked any insight on what government’s thoughts are on trade “beyond AGOA” as the United States considers its future trade relationship with us and the region.

Since its enactment in 2000 AGOA has been at the core of United States economic policy and commercial engagement with Africa. For two decades AGOA, with growing success, facilitated privileged market access for South Africa to the gargantuan US market. This preferential access spans a diverse array of goods that benefits an expansive commercial landscape.

The arrangement therefore not only undergirds our export sector but also injects tens of billions of Rands into the economy annually and thereby secures tens of thousands of jobs. As geopolitical sands shift, trade has become a sharper tool for foreign policy and government has underestimated the consequences of sending mixed and confusing signals.

The DA has therefore been proactive in safeguarding South Africa’s future within the AGOA framework. Our submission to the US Trade Representative in July presented a compelling case for South Africa’s AGOA renewal in 2024.

As we approach the summit, the DA will continue to engage in comprehensive dialogues with both domestic and international stakeholders. We will now write to Ambassador Tai to request that we, as the Official Opposition, be allowed to present and participate in the Forum.

Our presentation will not only aim to maintain the status quo but to elevate South Africa’s position within AGOA and the global market in a manner that benefits both South Africans and our international partners.

More specifically we believe that we would be able to make a meaningful contribution with regard to the reciprocal benefit of retaining AGOA (or similar arrangement), the DA’s vision for our future trade relationship with the United States in a post-ANC South Africa, and the impact of AGOA on human and economic development in South Africa.

Only a DA-led government can guarantee the stability and enhancement of U.S.-South Africa relations and thereby ensure that the South African economy remains globally relevant and competitive.

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