The U.S. and South Africa signed Jan. 6 an agreement that virtually assures that benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act will not be suspended for eligible goods in the agricultural sector from South Africa. The U.S. had threatened to take such action effective Jan. 4 unless South Africa met specified benchmarks relating to eliminating barriers to U.S. poultry, pork and beef. However, the South African government reports that negotiations that ran several days past that deadline yielded the following results.

- South Africa agreed to permit the unrestricted importation of shoulder cuts of pork after the U.S. agreed to apply mitigation measures, including the removal of risk material before exportation to South Africa.

- South Africa had already agreed to import beef from the U.S., which had requested to also be permitted to import livestock from third countries for direct slaughter and to export the meat thereof to South Africa. The U.S. has given guarantees concerning such livestock to ensure compliance with U.S. requirements, and South Africa has agreed to these assurances.

- Two issues were under consideration with respect to poultry: highly pathogenic avian influenza and salmonella. On HPAI, the two sides concluded in November a protocol that will ensure that appropriate scientific measures are taken by the U.S. to ensure that the risk of transmission of HPAI to South African poultry is managed. On salmonella, South Africa has agreed to risk profile all consignments imported from U.S. export for the first three months, after which a revised statistically risk-based sampling plan will be implemented. South Africa will sample and test all consignments for compliance and its Department of Health will monitor these products after release from ports of entry.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said that while the two sides have resolved all outstanding technical issues, South Africa’s “full and continued enjoyment of AGOA’s benefits” will depend on the final benchmark of the entry of U.S. poultry into South Africa. Froman said USTR will work with the U.S. and South African industries to expedite the shipment of eligible product as soon as possible.

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