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Cosatu wants Agoa membership to be renewed to avoid job losses

Cosatu members during a march in Cape Town. File Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Cosatu members during a march in Cape Town. File Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 19, 2023


Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

Cosatu has called for the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), saying it will help to keep thousands of jobs and grow the economy.

It said South Africa cannot afford at this stage to lose its membership of Agoa.

Cosatu was part of a delegation that was in the US last week to meet with senior officials from the Biden administration, senior members of Congress, business and unions.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni and Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel were leading the South African delegation.

They met with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment Jose Fernandez, Senator Chris Coons and business executives.

A few months ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s national security adviser Sydney Mufamadi, Godongwana and International Relations and Cooperation Department Director-General Zane Dangor were also in the US to meet with their counterparts.

Government officials have been trying to push for the extension of Agoa.

Cosatu said all measures must be put in place to ensure Agoa is renewed to protect jobs and the economy.

“South Africa, like all nations in this globalised era, is dependent upon trading with other countries. Key trade and investment partners for South Africa include the world’s leading economies, in particular the US, the European Union and China. Agoa has had a positive impact upon, not only South Africa, but the continent as a whole.

“Agoa provides reduced tariff access to large volumes of South African goods to the US market, currently still the world’s largest economy. Our mining, manufacturing, and in particular auto-manufacturing, clothing, jewellery and agricultural exports have benefited from this favourable tariff regime.

“Agoa is renewed annually and extended for five-year terms. South Africa’s retention is currently subject to review as its current membership expires in 2025. Not only do US companies investing locally support directly and indirectly 600,000 South African jobs, but even more local jobs in the mining, manufacturing and agricultural sectors benefit from our large volumes of exports to America.

“The revenues and taxes they generate contribute towards government’s fiscus and thus its ability to fund badly-needed public services and jobs. The majority of these workers are members of Cosatu affiliates,” said Cosatu.

It said South Africa needs to keep all the jobs it has to ensure unemployment does not go up.

It supports the government’s push to be kept in Agoa and to host the Agoa summit in Johannesburg in November.

Cosatu wants the scope of products in Agoa to be increased, once it is renewed.

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