Agoa's extension would bring enormous confidence for investors |Patel.
By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel briefed the media on the state of readiness for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum, expressing confidence that the government's relations with the United States (US) were strong.
Patel provided a comprehensive update on South Africa's preparedness for hosting the AGOA Forum, along with insights into the forthcoming program.
AGOA is a United States of America trade programme that provides eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa with preferential access to the US markets. AGOA aims to promote economic growth, reduce poverty, and foster a stronger trade partnership between the United States and African nations. South Africa will be co-hosting the AGOA Forum for 2023 in Johannesburg from 2 - 4 November 2023.
Agoa in its current form is due to expire in 2025.
In responding to concerns about the matter, Patel reiterated government's position that South Africa is non-aligned with the conflict and hopes for a peaceful resolution. He defended government's approach to the issue in saying that government has done what any democracy does, to properly investigate.
Patel said early certainty about Agoa's extension would bring enormous confidence for investors.
Participating African countries and regional value chains have benefitted greatly from Agoa since its enactment in 2000, including through access to the US market for African goods.
African countries, including South Africa, view Agoa as a means to promote industrialisation on the continent.
Currently, Agoa allows 35 participating countries to export 1 835 types of goods to the US consumer market, and, in turn, Agoa affords the US access to critical minerals, product value chains and investment opportunities in Africa.
The Agoa Forum, which will be its twentieth instance, will see governments of the US and Agoa-eligible countries, as well as representatives from the private sector, civil society and labour, engaging on trade and investment matters.
South African stakeholders hope that the forum will reaffirm the US administration's commitment to the African continent and provide opportunities to make Agoa more transformative.
Patel said the forum would be an opportunity to unpack challenges that various exporters on the African continent face.
He added that the forum follows on various business meetings between the South African and US governments, which included organisations such as Business Leadership South Africa.
More than 160 business participants and trade unions are expected to engage on trade and investment matters, with a total 2 000 participants expected to visit this year’s forum.
Notably, 520 firms, including services, automotive, coffee and clothing and textiles businesses, will be displaying their products in a "Made in Africa" exhibition, which will showcase the industrial capability on the continent to procurement officers.
The forum will also be open to members of the public on certain days.
Patel emphasised that the forum would also have a "Heritage Walk" activity, showcasing artifacts from South Africa's history.
He said the forum would be a celebration of economic relationships with a view to upscale and further improve these relationships to create more economic linkages among African countries, particularly as the African Continental Free Trade Area takes shape.
Patel lauded the "outstanding" support from the South African private sector to advocate for Agoa's renewal, including through sponsorships of the forum by companies such as Standard Bank, Sibanye-Stillwater, Sasol, Pepsico, Vodacom, MTN, Aspen and Google.
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Video Courtesy of GCIS.