US prepares to renew African Growth Act

Extension was a main item on Africa-US summit agenda

South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma   at the US-Africa leaders summit  in Washington. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma at the US-Africa leaders summit in Washington. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Sat, Aug 9, 2014, 01:00

The US is committed to renewing the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which in its present form expires next year, South African president Jacob Zuma has said following this week’s Africa US Summit in Washington.

However, Mr Zuma was unable to say whether South Africa would be included in the next version of Agoa, although he maintained his delegation had made a compelling argument to their US counterparts as to why the country should.

“We successfully conveyed the message that South Africa’s graduation from Agoa would damage the AU’s regional integration initiatives, as well as industries in neighbouring countries that benefit from South Africa’s manufacturing capability,” Mr Zuma said in a statement. “Benefits to South Africa are immense, we can only trust that this matter will be concluded successfully.”

US summit

The three-day summit in Washington was the first of its kind and was initiated by US president Barack Obama after his visit to the continent last year. Up to 40 African heads of state participated and the extension of Agoa was one of the main items on the agenda.

Agoa is a non-reciprocal preferential trade scheme that applies to US imports from eligible sub-Saharan African countries. Effectively, companies exporting to the US from countries covered by the act get duty free treatment on their imports in a bid to support economic development on the continent.