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South Africa Officials Request 15-Year AGOA Extension

South Africa officials will call for the U.S. to extend the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) by 15 years. On Tuesday, South Africa minister of trade and industry Rob Davies said any shorter period would jeopardize and fuel uncertainty about the trade act, which expires next year.

Davies, along with a South African delegation of ministers, will meet with U.S. trade representative Michael Froman to discuss renewal of the trade agreement, as well as new conditions being imposed on beneficiaries. The meeting will take place before a summit with U.S. President Barack Obama in August.

AGOA allows sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the U.S. market, so long as they abide the law, support human rights, promote poverty reduction and do not engage in corrupt activities. Since it went into place 14 years ago, exports from the region to the U.S. have tripled.

Davies said, “Our central message is that AGOA is significant to the regional integration efforts in Africa. Africa is pursuing a developmental integration with industrialization and infrastructure development as its pillars, and as such, AGOA would support the creation of regional value chains and value addition.”

Froman reported that U.S. trade interests are doing a comprehensive review ahead of the renewal of AGOA and noted that in order for sub-Saharan Africa to become an emerging economy, “we must deal with the supply-side constraints that infringe on Africa’s ability to compete and integrate successfully in the global trading system.”

During an event on Tuesday at The Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., Froman said, “As we look to the next chapter of U.S. trade and investment relations with Africa, and as Africa itself furthers its efforts to deepen its integration–first as regional economic communities and ultimately in the context of a continent-wide free trade area–we need to think through how our trade relationship with Africa might evolve from one built around a unilateral preference program to a more reciprocal set of arrangements over the medium and long-term.”

The US-African Leaders Summit begins on August 5.