AGOA Benefits for South Africa Appear Safe After Agreement on Agricultural Exports
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced March 2 that South Africa has met all of the agreed-upon benchmarks with respect to imports of U.S. poultry, pork and beef to demonstrate its compliance with the eligibility requirements under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. As a result, President Obama is expected to soon revoke a proclamation that would have suspended duty-free treatment under AGOA for all AGOA-eligible goods in the agricultural sector from South Africa as of March 15. However, USTR Mike Froman said the U.S. will continue to monitor the situation as U.S. products make their way into the South African market.
According to a USTR fact sheet, exports of U.S. bone-in chicken were effectively excluded from the South African market for 15 years due to a range of trade barriers and other measures. Likewise, exports of U.S. pork and beef were blocked for several years due to sanitary restrictions. Congress responded by mandating an out-of-cycle review, which was initiated in July 2015 and resulted in South Africa committing to benchmarks on poultry, pork and beef. After some progress was made toward meeting those benchmarks, the president issued in January a proclamation suspending AGOA benefits for South Africa’s agricultural products as of March 15. This delay provided additional time for South Africa to meet the last major benchmark (allowing U.S. poultry to enter into commerce in South Africa) and finalize needed documents for shipments of pork, steps that USTR states were accomplished on Feb. 29 and March 1, respectively.