SA fights to keep Agoa benefits

South Africa’s trade minister, Ebrahim Patel, will be concerned with wider trade issues than poultry when he goes to the United States next month.

Business Day reports that he will be leading a delegation to present arguments to the US government on why South Africa should not be excluded from the benefits of America’s Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa). The benefits are substantial, and include duty-free access to America for South African manufactured goods and agricultural products.

US legislators have argued that South Africa could lose those benefits  because of South Africa’s perceived bias towards Russia following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As this bulletin noted last week, poultry could become an Agoa issue for South Africa if the country is allowed to continue benefiting and can propose revised terms when the US legislation comes up for renewal in 2025.

But Minister Patel’s priority next month will be to keep South Africa on the list of African countries that qualify for Agoa benefits.

Political opposition is not the only threat South Africa faces. As Patel explained to parliament, South Africa could be “graduated” out of the Agoa agreement if the US concludes that South Africa has benefited sufficiently and no longer needs preferential access to US markets.

He will have to fight against that argument, too.