South Africa Gets AGOA Go-Ahead
With regard to international trade, it’s currently rather a bad time for supporters of free trade. According to a recent World Trade Organization (WTO) report, between mid-October 2015 and mid-May 2016, G20 nations applied 145 new trade-restrictive measures, or an average of almost 21 new measures a month, up from 17 in the preceding period. This is the highest monthly average of new trade restrictive measures registered since the WTO began its monitoring exercise in 2009. In addition, G20 states initiated 96 anti-dumping investigations in the most recent period for which data is available (June-December 2015), while 80 were initiated during the previous six months.
Nevertheless, there have still been some glimmers of hope for free traders recently. One of them was confirmation by the South African Department of Trade and Industry that tariff-free access to the United States market will be granted to South Africa’s farmers through 2025 under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA allows almost all goods produced in AGOA-eligible countries (approximately 6,800 items) to enter the US market tariff-free, and for South Africa, the stakes of being kicked out of the AGOA scheme were high. According to South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, about ZAR25bn (USD1.5bn) of South Africa’s ZAR70bn annual exports to the United States have been traded within AGOA, and he claimed that some 62,000 South African jobs were at risk prior to AGOA benefits being fully restored.
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