Davies announces Agoa breakthrough

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies (Gallo)

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies (Gallo)

The US and SA have resolved their differences over the Agoa trade agreement, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has revealed.

Cape Town -Rob Davies, the minister of trade and industry, announced on Thursday that there had been a breakthrough in outstanding matters over Agoa - allowing the agriculture and automotive sectors in South Africa to continue to derive trade benefits of entry into the United States.

In return, South Africa would accept imports of 65 000 tonnes of poultry a year from the United States, subject to a rigorous health checking process. South African and US diplomats - advised by veterinarians from both sides - forged agreements on outstanding matters concerning various diseases affecting meats imported from the US, including salmonella and avian flu.

South Africa will now allow imports of poultry and pork that satisfy health standards in the US.

The announcement by Davies will come as a relief to the agriculture and automative industries - particularly BMW and Mercedes, which stand to benefit from continued absence of tariff barriers through Agoa.

Davies said: “There has been a satisfactory conclusion [to negotiations] ... we will get 65 000 tonnes [of poultry] per annum from the United States.”

While it was reported that the US could impose a suspension of importation of agriculture products from South Africa barrier free, this now falls away. This means that South Africa’s citrus industry - which exports about 110 000 tonnes a year to the United States - will save about $6-million in duties every year.

Altogether about 62 000 jobs that benefit “in one way or the other” by Agoa would now continue to be underpinned by the 16-year old Agoa agreement, reported Davies. “Agoa remains a valuable opportunity for south African exporters.”

The minister - who was flanked by the health and agriculture ministers at a press conference in Pretoria but beamed to Cape Town - said there would be relief of about $47-million in tariffs as a consequence of the agreement. Most of that benefit would apply to the automotive sector in South Africa, he reported.

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