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Government’s actions make SA’s position in AGOA increasingly unstable


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Government’s actions make SA’s position in AGOA increasingly unstable

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9th November 2023


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Solidarity believes the South African government is missing the mark if they think the country’s position in AGOA, which forms part of American trade legislation, is safe and sound. 

Although this US legislation’s positive impact on African economies was praised at the end of last week’s AGOA forum in Johannesburg, South Africa’s position is once again under fire.

According to reports, American Senator, Chris Coons, once again asked for the reconsideration of South Africa’s benefits in terms of the AGOA agreement.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (better known as AGOA) grants qualifying African countries important access to duty-free exports to the US market. It is currently valid until 2025, but its extension depends on opinions within the US Congress. 

According to Jaco Kleynhans, head of international liaison for the Solidarity Movement, there is currently a strong movement within the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee that South Africa’s participation in AGOA should be reconsidered. 

“Senators from the Republicans and Democrats are unhappy with the White House under the Biden administration’s decision to keep South Africa unconditionally part of AGOA in 2024. Several senators feel that South Africa’s foreign policy is directly hostile to American interests. 

“Therefore, we can expect that South Africa’s participation in AGOA will come more and more under the magnifying glass over the next few months,” said Kleynhans.

According to him, the South African government, especially President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, believe that they can convince the West of the existence of a historical obligation to support South Africa. 

“In fact, South Africa thinks it can make demands regarding AGOA. All this, while South Africa openly and arrogantly deepens its relationship with countries such as China, Russia and Iran. This is seen in the government’s position and dealings with the conflict in Israel,” said Kleynhans.

“During these times where the temperature in the global power struggle is rising, countries outside this power struggle must maintain a careful balance in their foreign relations. It should not appear as though sides are being taken, and yet this is exactly what South Africa is doing. 

“South Africa’s image in the West has been further damaged in recent weeks with its anti-Israel point of view.” 

Solidarity believes that an impression is being created that South Africa is increasingly abandoning its neutral position and prefers instead to side with enemies of the West, such as Hamas and Iran. 

The AGOA stipulations make it clear that countries who benefits from them may not engage in activities that could undermine US foreign policy interests.

Exports to the USA are an important source of income for South Africa and contribute to the promotion of economic growth. In 2022, South Africa had exports worth R178 billion to the USA. That is why it is important for South Africa to do everything within their power to preserve their position within AGOA.

Issued by Solidarity



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