Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has confirmed that South Africa will host the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) summit in November.
This is despite earlier threats that the summit could be moved from South Africa to another country after calls by US lawmakers to move the summit away from South Africa because of Pretoria’s alleged involvement in the supply of weapons to Russia.
Senator Chris Coons and other lawmakers in the US wrote to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Trade Representative Katherine Tai and national security adviser Jake Sullivan early this year that the Agoa summit must be moved from South Africa.
This was denied by Pretoria and President Cyril Ramaphosa launched an inquiry into the allegations.
The inquiry has found that no weapons were put on the ship, but the Russian vessel had offloaded equipment that had been ordered in 2018 and could not be delivered due to Covid-19.
Defence Minister Thandi Modise had given a similar explanation during a media briefing in December when it was first reported that a Russian ship docked in Simon’s Town to load weapons.
When Brigety went public with his allegations, South Africa was involved in a flurry of diplomatic activities with senior Ministers travelling to Washington to assure the Biden administration that Pretoria had not sold arms to Russia.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel and Ntshavheni met with senior officials in the US a few months ago to try and get the Agoa deal extended.
They even met with Coons, and Ramaphosa’s national security adviser Sydney Mufamadi met his US counterpart Jake Sullivan a few months ago to discuss this matter.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai was in constant contact with Patel over the renewal of the Agoa deal, which is due to expire in 2025.
Patel wanted Agoa to be renewed by 2024.
Ntshavheni confirmed that the Agoa summit will go ahead as planned in November in South Africa.
“South Africa will host the Agoa forum November 2-4. The forum will discuss trade matters between the United States of America and the eligible African countries,” said Ntshavheni.
Patel is also representing African countries on Agoa matters.