24 May South Africa pushes to be retain its AGOA eligibility status
Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel says they will push for South Africa to be retained in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) amid tensions between Pretoria and Washington.
Patel said Agoa was approved by the US Congress, but they have been in discussions with the Biden administration on extension being granted to South Africa.
Patel was invited to Washington last December where he was asked to put forward the case for Africa.
He said he made a presentation on behalf of the continent on the need to extend the preferential trade deal.
He said they would continue to engage the US on the need to keep South Africa in Agoa.
He said they valued the trade relations with the US.
“We will be working closely with the US administration in making the case why South Africa should remain in Agoa and we hope that we are successful,” said Patel.
Agoa is due to expire in 2025 but questions have been raised following tensions between South Africa and the US after allegations by Reuben Bridgety of arms sales to Russia.
The US ambassador was called into a meeting by International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor where she expressed her strong objections to his allegations.
Pandor had a discussion with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the matter.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to appoint a retired judge to lead an inquiry into the claims by the US ambassador.
But Defence Minister Thandi Modise denied the allegations in Parliament on Tuesday, where she said nothing was loaded on the Russian ship.
Patel, who was briefing the media in Cape Town ahead of his budget vote speech on Wednesday, said they would push for South Africa to be kept as a member of Agoa.
He said he shared fears by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana that if South Africa was kicked out of Agoa it would lose substantially on the export market.
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