Pretoria – South Africa and the United States have resolved all outstanding issues relating to agricultural imports from the US.
This, according to Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele, has paved the way for the continuation of African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) benefits for South Africa’s agricultural exports into the US market.
“South Africa is working with the relevant stakeholders to facilitate the first shipment of US poultry imports under the agreed quota,” Minister Cwele said at the International Cooperation, Trade and Security cluster briefing on Tuesday.
AGOA is a legislation that provides duty-free market access to the US for qualifying sub-Saharan African countries by extending preferences on more than 4 600 products.
Minister Cwele said South Africa and the US have recommitted themselves to work towards resolving issues affecting South Africa’s agricultural exports to the US. The affected agricultural exports include, among others, citrus, avocadoes, litchis, beef, mutton and racehorses.
AGOA was re-authorised in June 2015 for 10 years until 2025, with South Africa’s inclusion. This move, Minister Cwele said, will secure continued market access for South African products, including in value-added generating sectors such as agriculture and automobiles.
“The renewal of AGOA beyond September 2015 and a pledge to support African-led peace initiatives in the continent are among the significant outcomes of the US-Africa Leadership Summit held in the US last year.”
Mandela Washington Fellowship
Meanwhile, the cluster said government is looking into having an engagement with the US embassy with regard to the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.
The cluster, however, did not give timeframes for the engagement.
State Security Minister David Mahlobo said the programme, which began in 2014 as the flagship programme of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), remains important.
He said when African leaders met under the auspices of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington, concerns were raised that in as much as the programme is very important, it must be done working hand-in-hand with African governments.
“We remain [ready] to engage with them in terms of mutual respect. If there are matters of concern, we [should] be able to raise them,” Minister Mahlobo said.
He said Pretoria’s relationship with Washington remains strong and cordial.