Washington - President Jacob Zuma and a ministerial delegation will spend three days in the US trying to encourage more trade and investment between the two countries.
Zuma, who arrived in Washington yesterday, will be leading the South African delegation at the US-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by President Barack Obama.
“The summit provides an opportunity to promote increased co-operation on Africa-US trade and investment as well as co-operation on peace and security, infrastructure development and other key sectors,” presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj said yesterday.
“South Africa sees immense value in the Power Africa initiative of president Obama and an opportunity in it to promote Africa’s energy projects as part of the continent’s important infrastructure development programme.”
The South African delegation would also spend time arguing why the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) should be renewed and why the country should continue to be included in it.
Last week Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, who is attending the summit, said South Africa wanted Agoa renewed for 15 years as it would have a positive effect on investor confidence.
Agoa is a non-reciprocal preferential scheme which applies only to US imports from eligible sub-Saharan Africa countries, for which South Africa qualifies. It was signed into law on May 18, 2000.
Maharaj said it was estimated that about 95 percent of South African exports to the US were permitted duty-free access through Agoa.
Today, Zuma would attend a breakfast at the US Chamber of Commerce where he would engage with chief executives as part of the US-South African Chamber of Commerce African business initiative session, Maharaj said.
“This interaction provides an opportunity to discuss ways of further enhancing trade relations. The session is important for South Africa given that 600 US companies do business in South Africa, and also given the fact that the economy, especially economic growth and job creation, has been declared as apex priorities in the country.”
Zuma would be accompanied by Davies, International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters and State Security Minister David Mahlobo.
Roads throughout downtown Washington are closing for the summit and security at many of the hotels has been beefed up as delegations from around Africa occupy them.
On Wednesday, US national security adviser Susan Rice said the country would do everything to make the summit a success and change Americans’ perception about Africa.
“We have much more work to do to change outdated mindsets in which Africa is often marginalised,” she said.
“Too many Americans still only see conflict, disease and poverty, and not the extraordinarily diverse Africa brimming with innovation that’s driving its own development.”
The US had to acknowledge that African economies were already taking off and that the US could do more to compete to be a full partner in Africa’s success, Rice said.
Nearly 50 African presidents and prime ministers are scheduled to attend the summit. – Sapa
n Flight and hotel costs for Sapa’s reporter covering the summit were paid for by the presidency.