African countries urged to take full advantage of AGOA

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged African countries to take full advantage of the opportunities from the US trade programme, the Africa Opportunity Growth Act (AGOA). He was speaking at the 20th session of the AGOA forum at the Nasrec Expo Centre south of Johannesburg.

The three day meeting is attended by hundreds of business people, government officials from the US and Africa as well as labour and civil society organisations from over 30 African countries who are beneficiaries of the AGOA.

President Ramaphosa says he is concerned about the under-utilisation of AGOA by some African countries.

“AGOA as a whole remains underutilised and I hope that in your discussion you will explore ways in which we can fully utilise this great opportunity. Utilisation rates vary widely. Kenya and Lesotho have had some of the highest AGOA utilisation rates. 80% of Kenyan exports and 99% of Lesotho’s exports to the United States qualified for zero-tariff treatment and we are grateful for those two countries that they have reached the high rate of the utilisation of AGOA.”

AGOA Forum I “AGOA as a whole remains underutilised”: President Cyril Ramaphosa:

Finished products

Earlier Ramaphosa said the African continent wants to produce finished products that will be exported to other parts of the world. Africa has a large quantity of natural resources, including diamonds, gold, iron, fruit and vegetables.

Ramaphosa says trading is part of the continent’s DNA. He has added that the continent values the relationship with the US, the biggest economy in the world.

“Africa is an important source of critical raw materials but we don’t want to define it simply as being the producers of commodities. The great opportunity lies in the transformation of rocks and metal that we produce into the sophisticated industrial and consumer goods needed across the world. Gone should be the days when Africa is seen as the source. We’d now want to produce the products. We want to earn full value for our products. It’s a journey that requires great partnerships that we should forge and we look forward to the US working with the continent to foster an investment-led approach.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address:

Vice president of the Black Business Council Gregory Mofokeng says the fact that the US imports 80% of its goods and services while South Africa exports only 20% is not fair and has called for other sectors besides manufacturing and textiles to be part of AGOA.

“It is important for us as a continent to make sure that we make it easier our business to comply to be able to benefit from this instrument called AGOA, number 1. And number 2 of course, we would want fair labour practices not only here in South Africa but in the rest of the continent as well. And that’s why there is alongside the business discussions, labour discussions taking place to make sure that we take along labour as far as this journey is concerned and that they are fair labour practices.”

AGOA Forum | “Trade with US presents growing opportunities for businesses”: Gregory Mofokeng: