Siyabonga Cwele, Minister of State Security, Nathi Mathethwa, Minister of Police, Helen Zille, Western Cape Premier, at Parliament during a media briefing after a meeting about the threats of xenophobia sweeping across the country. Picture: Gareth Smit Reporter: Siyabonga from Political Bureau

Cape Town – Siyabonga Cwele, the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, on Tuesday announced that South Africa and the United States (US) had resolved all outstanding issues relating to agricultural imports from the US.

In a statement issued by government on Tuesday, Cwele said the ironing out of issues had paved the way for the continuation of African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) benefits for South Africa’s agricultural exports into the US market.

“South Africa is working with the relevant stakeholders to facilitate the first shipment of US poultry imports under the agreed quota,” Minister Cwele said at the International Cooperation, Trade and Security cluster briefing on Tuesday.

Agoa is a legislation that provides duty-free market access to the US for qualifying sub-Saharan African countries by extending preferences on more than 4 600 products.

US President Barack Obama announced last month that South Africa’s agricultural benefits under Agoa would be suspended from March 15 if certain terms on key areas related to the importation of US meat were not met, despite the two countries reaching agreement on all outstanding issues.

Cwele said South Africa and the US had recommitted themselves to working towards resolving issues affecting South Africa’s agricultural exports to the US. The affected agricultural exports included, among others, citrus, avocados, litchis, beef, mutton and racehorses.

Cwele said this move would secure continued market access for South African products, including in value-added generating sectors such as agriculture and automobiles.

“The renewal of Agoa beyond September 2015 and a pledge to support African-led peace initiatives in the continent are among the significant outcomes of the US-Africa Leadership Summit held in the US last year.”