Davies: SA at root of US, African trade

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Rob Davies Pic Independent Newspapers Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Washington - South Africa has been at the centre of exploring trade opportunities between the United States and Africa, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Thursday.

“We've been the root of exploring the free trade area with the US... and that is a point which is important,” he told Sapa in Washington.

“When we talk about any trade negotiations they not just South Africa... they involve least developed countries, (and) small vulnerable economies.”

Davies was part of the South African delegation attending a inter-ministerial Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa) meeting and the US-Africa Leadership Summit.

He arrived in Washington on Thursday.

Agoa was a non-reciprocal preferential scheme, which applied only to United States imports from eligible Sub-Saharan Africa countries, including South Africa.

It was signed into law on May 18, 2000.

During the summit in Washington, South Africa will have to argue why it should remain in the Agoa and advocate for the renewal of the act.

Earlier this week, Davies said South Africa wanted the US Congress, who will make the decision regarding the Agoa, to renew it for another 15 years, as this would help investor confidence.

Davies said the country had a strong case despite some believing it did not.

“There's a hearing for it in important circles of the United States.

“But there are a couple of voices here and there that are complaining about this or that and saying we should be phased out,” he said.

During the visit to the US capital the South African delegation, led by President Jacob Zuma, would meet with members of the US Congress, the administration and business.

Davies could not say whether the five-month long strike on the North West platinum belt or the more recent four week metals and engineering strike would have an effect on investor confidence.

“We'll have to see, sometimes they are concerned.

“We've had one extraordinary strike, which is the strike in the platinum sector. Not every strike is like that.”

Davies said more value needed to be added to platinum as a product.

His department was currently involved with provinces on two platinum based beneficiation processes which would add value.

This was in the form of jewellery, automotive catalytic converters and fuel cell technology.

*Flight and hotel costs for Sapa's reporter covering the summit were paid by the presidency.* - Sapa

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