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The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a unilateral US trade preference programme that provides duty-free, quota-free treatment for over 6400 tariff lines from 40 AGOA-eligible sub-Saharan African countries, including South Africa, into the United States market. South Africa is the largest non-oil AGOA-beneficiary country, exporting products such as automobiles and auto parts, agricultural products, chemicals, steel, and aluminium products, among others, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

SA trade mission to Kenya and Tanzania plannedAn annual forum, alternating between sub-Saharan Africa and the US, provides a platform to discuss how to preserve the AGOA preferences, as well as how the programme could support regional integration efforts in the continent. The theme for this year’s forum is “forging new strategies for US-Africa trade and investment”, and will focus on implementation of AGOA, as well as strategies for deepening US-sub-Saharan Africa trade and investment relationships.

According to reports, the Trump administration has a new proposal for future US-Africa trade relations, and wants to establish “a free trade agreement that could serve as a model for developing countries”. Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana are under consideration as partners for developing the first model, according to sources in the Trump administration.

This comes on the back of the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in March. Once fully implemented, the AfCFTA requires members to remove tariffs on 90% of goods and to allow free access to goods, services, and commodities.

AGOA, which only allowed membership to those countries that have established or are making continuous progress with market-based economies, rule of law and pluralism, elimination of trade and investment barriers to the US, human rights, labour standards, fighting against corruption, and economic policy to reduce poverty, among other criteria, has resulted in a “relatively balanced, growing, diversified, and mutually beneficial trade relationship between South Africa and the US”, Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies.

Davies will be attending the 17th forum in Washington this week, with the aim of continuing beneficial US-South African trade relations.

Image credit: Credit: Flickr/GovermentZACredit: Flickr/GovermentZA

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