Agriculture tractor plowing field

US President Barack Obama on Thursday informed Congress of the intention to suspend the application of duty-free treatment to all AGOA-eligible agricultural products from South Africa.

Agriculture
Agriculture

This will affect annual agricultural exports worth about 2.4 billion rand (about 174 million U.S. dollars), covering products such as wine, fruit juice, citrus fruit, pulp and more.

The loss of AGOA benefits for agricultural products will cost thousands of jobs in the agricultural sector.
The consequences for farmers and farmworkers is profoundly negative in a year in which they are already suffering the effects of a devastating drought, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Friday.

According to Obama’s letter to Congress, the new higher tariffs on South Africa’s agricultural exports will only take effect in 60 days (5 January 2016), so South Africa theoretically still has until then to sort out the remaining market access barriers and meet its commitments

The US took the move after South Africa allegedly failed to honour the commitments made to the US on market access for chicken, pork and beef.

If the South African government manages to resolve outstanding animal health issues for poultry, pork, and beef before the 60 days lapse, there may still be an opportunity for this suspension to be withdrawn.

“Given this possibility, we take note of the acknowledgement by President Obama of South Africa’s willingness to resolve the outstanding issues,” the South African Agricultural Business Chamber (AGBIZ) said.

SA Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies is expected to brief the media on the issue later in the day.

This announcement came just three days after Davies told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry that “AGOA is secure” and that South Africa had met all of the commitments made to the US earlier this year.
Although the U.S. renewed the AGOA for another decade in July, Washington has been conducting an out-of-cycle review of SA’s participation in the programme.

In recent months, South African ministers and members of the poultry industry launched an offensive, trying to get the U.S. to support South Africa’s renewed inclusion in the act.

The AGOA, a legislation that was approved by the U.S. Congress in May 2000, is to assist the economies of Sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between the U.S. and the region. The Act provides trade preferences for quota and duty-free entry into the U.S. for certain goods, under certain conditions. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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