18 June 2017

Africa: After Agoa - SA Must Prepare for Two-Way Free Trade Agreements With Us

analysis

The Trump Administration has signalled its impatience to replace the AGOA preferential trade deal with Africa with normal two-way free trade agreements. By PETER FABRICIUS.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says America's relationship with Africa "has to continue its transition from being 'AID-based' to 'TRADE-based'".

"To that end, having two-way trade agreements, not just temporary trade preferences, would create long-term, sustainable improvements to quality of life on both sides of the Atlantic," Ross told the Corporate Council for Africa's business summit in Washington on Thursday.

The temporary trade preference he was referring to is the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which, since 2000, has given eligible African countries duty and quota free access to the US market, without having to reciprocate. In 2015 it was extended to 2025 but it is not clear that it will be extended again.

South Africa has benefited more than other African countries from AGOA but experts on US-SA relations said Ross's speech signalled that South Africa had better start negotiating with the US soon for a two-way free trade agreement to replace AGOA.

Ross said that bilateral trade agreements, rather than large, multilateral ones, could be very effective tools in meeting the long-term...

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