Four Cabinet ministers appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa as special envoys to the G7 countries will travel to those countries to explain Pretoria’s position on the Ukraine conflict.
The four minister are Naledi Pandor, Minister of International relations and Cooperation; Enoch Godongwana, Minister of Finance; Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade and Industry, and Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.
In announcing the mission, Ntshavheni said they also value the relationship with the US and they would like the US’ African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) to be extended.
Patel is expected to travel to the US to discuss AGOA.
Patel said recently that he has been in touch with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai over the extension of the preferential trade agreement.
South Africa also sent its senior Cabinet members and Ramaphosa’s national security adviser Sydney Mufamadi to meet with top Biden administration officials over Agoa and other issues.
There have been tensions between Pretoria and Washington over the secretive docking of the sanctioned Russian ship, Lady R, in Simon’s Town last December, with the US claiming arms were involved.
Ntshavheni said they have clarified the issue of AGOA.
She said they even sent senior officials to meet with their US counterparts over Agoa.
“There has been a delegation to the US to engage with the US government on Agoa and where we stand we have reached agreement on that. In addition, the president announced the four envoys who are ministers who will engage the G7 countries and other leading nations on the question of South Africa in terms of the conflict in Ukraine.
“Our position has always been that the Agoa engagements with the US are not new. The US has always wanted to remove South Africa from Agoa for one reason or the other. The notification started in 2019. This time around they indicated that South Africa is no longer a developing country, it’s a developed country and is benefiting the largest in Agoa.
“As government of South Africa, we have countered that assertion and indicated that South Africa is still a developing country with elements of a developed country and, therefore, we cannot, as a country and people, be punished or removed from Agoa on the basis of the gains we are making in development,” said Ntshavheni.
She said South Africa has a strong partnership with the US.
Pretoria values the trade and other relations it has with Washington.
The government appreciated that Washington continued to engage it on a number of platforms and through diplomatic channels.
Ramaphosa will be sending his four senior Cabinet ministers to the G7 countries to explain South Africa’s non-aligned position.