Johannesburg: The African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which is regarded as a favourable trade and investment policy introduced unilaterally by the US a decade ago, should be extend beyond its current 2015 deadline, but could also be enhanced, South Africa's Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Rob Davies said on Monday. He indicated that the legislation could also play a role in improving regional integration on the continent, which remained a 'fundamental challenge'.
Agoa, which was introduced a decade ago, aims to reduce barriers to trade, increase diversified exports, create jobs and expand opportunities for people on the continent. The tenth Agoa Forum, which takes place this week in Zambia, would focus on enhanced trade through increased competitiveness, value addition and deeper regional integration.
While South Africa was identified as being a 'diverse user' of the framework created through Agoa, other Southern African countries had not had much success in diversifying their exports to the US, US trade representative Demetrios Marantis acknowledged at a briefing on the South Africa-US Trade and Investment Framework agreement, in Johannesburg, on Monday.
'It is important to ensure that stronger trade relations and export markets with other African countries are enabled,' he added.
But he also pointed to much progress being made on the South Africa-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. The framework, through regular dialogue, aimed to determine on how best to better build a strong relationship between the two countries, while creating economic growth and creating jobs.
The success of the framework has seen improvement in trade between the two countries, following the falloff during the recent recession. 'Exports from South Africa to the US, and vice versa, have increased, and South African investment flows continue to be strong. But, this does not mean we must be complacent and it is necessary to ensure that a robust trade and investment relationship continues into the future,' Marantis said.
Davies said that the framework remained key for South Africa, and that it also provided a platform to discuss key trade data, which needed to be worked on given that trade was impacted on by the global recession. 'Exports have recovered, but not to the level prior to the recession,' he added.
South African exports to the US were valued at R52.4-billion in 2010 compared with R41.3-billion in 2009, and R65.6-billion in 2008. Imports to South Africa from the US were valued at R41.2-bilion in 2010 compared with R41.2-billion in 2009, and R60-billion in 2008.