As the U.S. deadline approaches for renewing the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a group of African entrepreneurs and business people are asking South Africa not to give in to U.S. demands for duty-free access to U.S. poultry, IndependentOnline reports.
The Pan-African Business Forum represents many voices on the African continent wary of the apparent pressure that Washington appears to be piling on South Africa in the run up to AGOA’s renewal, according to the IOL report.
AGOA gives South Africa and other qualifying African countries preferential trade and duty-free status. Thanks to AGOA, South Africa has enjoyed duty-free access to the U.S. market for various products including wine, citrus, cars and textiles.
But U.S. poultry farmers are frustrated that South Africa — one of the potentially most lucrative export markets for U.S. poultry — has been placing tariffs on American chickens since 2000, essentially shutting them out to protect its own chicken industry, NYTimes reports.
U.S. officials are threatening South Africa’s continued inclusion in AGOA.
Ladislas Prosper Agbesi, chairman and CEO of the Pan-African Business Forum, said Africa is ready to stand behind South Africa in its bid to find a resolution that would not harm Africa’s interests in the long run. “We are asking other African countries to support South Africa,” Agbesi told Business Report in an interview.
South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, is scheduled to travel to Washington, D.C. next week to try and settle the poultry dispute prior to talks starting April 12 in Europe between the U.S. Poultry and Egg Export Council and the South African Poultry Association, IOL reports.
South Africa’s exclusion from AGOA could cost the country as much as $2.5 billion (29.3 billion ran) and put thousands of jobs in jeopardy – from automotive and agriculture to textile industries, IOL reports.
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