South Africa places great value on its bilateral relationship with the USA, one of its largest trading partners and with whom the country enjoys relations that go far beyond mere trade.
According to pres. Cyril Ramaphosa looks forward to South Africa’s further involvement in the re-approval of Agoa at a time when “its benefits continue to support our pursuit of economic growth, job creation and inclusive, sustainable development”.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (better known as AGOA) grants qualifying African countries important access to duty-free exports to the US market. It is currently valid until 2025, but its extension depends on opinions within the US Congress.
Solidarity believes the South African government is missing the mark if it thinks the country’s involvement in Agoa is safe and secure.
Although this American legislation’s positive effect on African economies was praised after the Agoa forum in Johannesburg, South Africa’s position is once again under fire.
The US Senator Chris Coons has once again asked for the reconsideration of South Africa’s benefits in terms of the Agoa legislation.
According to Ramaphosa, the benefits of Agoa are “felt in the lives of our people through increased economic activity and the jobs that such activity has created”.
“Although it may seem like a rather distant, even obscure subject to many in our country, Agoa is an important tool to grow and transform our economy. South Africa benefits greatly from Agoa. Our country is the USA’s largest trading partner in Africa. The US exports more goods to South Africa and also imports more goods from South Africa than any other African country.”
However, Ramaphosa said the value of Agoa for African countries extends beyond the impressive trade statistics. “Agoa can instead make an important contribution to the transformation of African countries from mainly exporters of raw materials to manufacturers of finished products for continental and global markets.”
According to Ramaphosa, a renewal of Agoa will encourage greater American investment in Africa south of the Sahara and improve the export competitiveness of African products.
Jaco Kleynhans, head of international liaison for the Solidarity Movement, said earlier that there is currently a strong movement within the US Senate’s foreign affairs committee that South Africa’s participation in Agoa should be reconsidered.
“Several senators feel that South Africa’s foreign policy is directly hostile to American interests.
“Therefore, we can expect that South Africa’s participation in Agoa will come further under the magnifying glass over the next few months,” says Kleynhans.
According to him, the South African government, and specifically Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Public Relations and Cooperation, Dr. Naledi Pandor, they can convince the West of the existence of a historical obligation to support South Africa.
“South Africa actually thinks it can make demands about Agoa. This while South Africa openly and arrogantly deepens its relationship with countries such as China, Russia and Iran. This is also seen in the government’s positions and handling of the conflict in Israel,” says Kleynhans.
“At this time when the temperature in the global power struggle is rising, countries outside this power struggle must maintain a careful balance in their foreign relations. It should not appear that sides are being taken, and yet this is exactly what South Africa is doing.
“South Africa’s image in the West has suffered further damage in recent weeks with its anti-Israel positions.”
Exports to the USA are an important source of income for South Africa and contribute to the promotion of economic growth. In 2022, South Africa had exports worth R178 billion to the USA. “That is why it is important for South Africa to do everything within its power to preserve the country’s position within Agoa.”