South Africa: SA Likely to Secure Trade Status Extension With US, Say Officials - But for How Much Longer?

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves opening the AGOA Private Sector Forum in Johannesburg.

Maintaining South Africa's status under the African Growth and Opportunity Act will save 30,000 jobs in the Western Cape alone and increase trade from an annual R50bn-plus. But commentators warn that SA might not be so lucky next year.

Officials are "cautiously optimistic" that South Africa can maintain its African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) status with the US, as the Agoa Forum kicks off in Johannesburg on Thursday, 2 November.

This week the US cut Uganda, Gabon, Niger and the Central African Republic out of Agoa, which gives eligible African countries duty-free access to the US for most of their exports. The Biden White House did not put SA on the chopping block in its annual eligibility report to Congress.

This was good news after all the earlier threats to SA's Agoa privileges emanating largely from the US Congress because of Pretoria's perceived palliness with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But some commentators are warning that Congress could still scupper South Africa's hopes next year.

As Daily Maverick reported at the weekend, South Africa wants to increase exports to the US under Agoa, from the current $2.7-billion annually (about R50-billion on 1 November). This represents a significant 30% of its total exports to the US. With low growth and cuts in spending, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana needs a fiscal boost from increased trade.

The US is South Africa's second-largest trading partner and still the source of a significant...

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