US shows interest in increasing African exports

The US has expressed interest in increasing agricultural imports from sub-Saharan Africa, Agriculture Deputy Minister Pieter Mulder said on Tuesday.

Speaking after meeting US agriculture department deputy secretary Krista Harden in Pretoria, Mulder said discussions had been friendly.

"As South Africa, we welcome the US interest [in improving trade relations]. A conference has been held on US trade with sub-Saharan Africa. We do think there are a lot of opportunities," said Mulder.

"There is huge potential in sub-Saharan Africa with international trade with America. There are issues of blockages. We discussed those and we hope they will be opened up."

Harden said she had brought a large business entourage to explore channels to broaden trade in sectors including agriculture.

'Promote trade'
"The meeting we just had today was good for both our countries. We touched on technical issues that we need to work through," she said.

"This is a process we know that will continue to grow a stronger relationship for our countries."

In July, US President Barack Obama affirmed his country's commitment to enhancing co-operation and trade with South Africa and its neighbours.

"Africa is on the rise and South Africa is always at the forefront of trends in Africa," Obama said after meeting President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria.

"I see South Africa as critical to one of my top priorities on this trip, and that is to promote trade and investment that helps unleash growth here in Africa and ultimately will benefit the United States of America."

Obama pledged support for the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which expires in 2015.

Agoa allows Southern African countries to ship certain products to the US tariff-free. – Sapa

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