01 Sep R40 billion and 500,000 jobs – there’s more at risk than you think
The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) says that it is vital that South Africa remain an eligible participant in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) – with billions of rands in exports and thousands of future jobs on the line.
The group published its AGOA Research Report on Thursday (31 August), outlining the impact of AGOA on South Africa, and the automotive sector in particular.
AGOA is a non-reciprocal preferential trade programme that the US offers to 49 sub-Saharan African countries.
The Act is an extension of the US Generalised System of Preferences and subject to annual Congressional re-authorisation.
Notably, the newly added “AGOA products” include items such as apparel and footwear, wine, motor vehicles, selected additional automotive components, a variety of agricultural products, chemicals, and steel, amongst others.
South Africa’s participation and eligibility in the programme has come under serious question – not only just recently in the wake of rising tensions between the US and Russia (and South Africa’s not-so-subtle support of the latter), but for years, as the country’s global standing is much stronger than other participants.
According to Naamsa, South Africa was the continent’s largest beneficiary of AGOA in 2022, exporting a wide range of products, including vehicles to the US.
Total South African exports to the US amounted to R178 billion in 2022 while imports amounted to R134 billion. While South Africa is a net beneficiary to the tune of R44 billion, US business interests are also well represented in the country.
Generally, Naamsa said that the benefits stemming from AGOA for South Africa are much broader than the mere duty and quota-free access to the United States.
“It also stimulates opportunities for a chain of collaborative arrangements with manufacturing companies from sub-Saharan African countries to access the US duty-free,” it said.
“AGOA has created in the order of 85,000 direct jobs and 426,000 indirect jobs in South Africa (511,000 total).”
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