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AGOA negotiations concluded successfully

By Ochega Ataguba

Trade disputes between South Africa and the United States (US) over health concerns related to poultry and meat imports from the US have been resolved, stated the Department of Trade and Industry.  It is hoped that the outcome of negotiations would retain US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) benefits for the country, including preferential access to one of the world’s largest markets, the US.

Although there were concerns that South Africa might fall out with the US and damage their reputation as trade partners when the country missed its 31 December 2015 deadline, it appears that this missed deadline did not have any detrimental effect as negotiations were concluded on Wednesday 6 January 2016 following intensive debates and the review of US food laws.

Terms of agreement

According to Sidwell Medupe, departmental spokesperson for Minister of Trade and Industry, an agreement was reached to risk profile all consignments imported from the US export establishments for the first three months. Thereafter, a revised statistical risk-based sampling plan will be implemented.
Modupe said that “negotiations over Salmonella issues were concluded and South Africa will sample and test all consignments for compliance. And the  Department of Health will monitor these products after release from ports on entry.”

With regards to pork, he highlighted that South Africa has agreed to permit the unrestricted importation of the shoulder cuts after the US agreed to apply mitigation measures including the removal of risk material before exportation to South Africa.

According to the manual, Modupe revealed that “South Africa had already agreed to import beef from the USA, however, the USA requested to be permitted to import livestock from third countries for further export to South Africa. The USA has given guarantees that livestock imported from third countries would ensure compliance with the USA domestic requirements. South Africa has agreed to the assurances given by the USA.”

Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry said on Thursday 7 January 2016: “This should retain the countries involvement with US African Growth and Opportunity Act, and we are expecting that South Africa will continue to participate in AGOA.”

Modupe maintained that debates have been concluded and the US has signed all documents surrounding the health issues. South Africa is now awaiting formal endorsement from the US authorities.

For more information on the US and SA AGOA negotiations click here

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