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SA confident AGOA suspension will be revoked

By Ochega Ataguba

The South African Department of Trade and Industry (dti) has issued a statement declaring that South Africa will retain all its African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) benefits and the 15 March 2016 deadline will be lifted as soon as the first shipment of poultry enters the South African Market. 

This came after President Barack Obama signed a proclamation regarding AGOA on Monday, ordering the suspension of duty-free treatment on all imports in the agricultural sector from South Africa.

This follows negotiations, over disputes related to the health impacts of meat imports, between South Africa and the United States which were concluded on 7 January 2016. However, this proclamation does not immediately terminate AGOA trade benefits for South Africa.

“Suspending the application of duty free treatment to certain goods would be more effective in promoting compliance by South Africa with such requirement than terminating the designation of South Africa as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country,” said Obama.  

It was, however, said that South Africa had not met requirements that would make the country an eligible beneficiary of US African Growth and Opportunity Act, but the dti is confident Obama’s proclamation to suspend South Africa from AGOA by 15 March 2016 will be revoked.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Department noted that they are working closely with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the local US Embassy, importers and US exporters, to facilitate the first shipments of US poultry under the agreed quota for US bone-in-chicken pieces.

“We are confident that the first shipment will arrive in the next few weeks and the US President will consequently revoke the previous proclamation,” said Sidwell Medupe, spokesperson for the dti.

In the statement from the dti it was stated that a number of queries have been received on the process to access the quota on US bone-in chicken. The quota has been implemented by the creation of Rebate Item 460.03/0207.14.9/01.07. A volume of 16 250 metric tons (MT) is available for use until 31 March 2016 on a first-come, first-serve basis for all importers under this rebate item.

The only process required is to clear the goods under this rebate item at the time of entry of the goods into South Africa and for a sufficient portion of the volume of 16 250 MT being available to cover the volume of bone-in chicken pieces being imported.

For more information on the announcement made by Obama, click here.

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