Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor says they will push for the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), but South Africa will maintain its non-aligned position.
She said her department and the department of trade and industry had been involved in discussions with the US government to present South Africa’s case.
The special envoys appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa had also made a strong case for the continued participation of South Africa in Agoa.
This is despite attempts by some members of the US Congress to exclude South Africa from Agoa.
South Africa recently hosted the Agoa forum in Johannesburg.
This was after some senators from the US tried to lobby president Joe Biden’s senior officials to move the Agoa forum away from South Africa.
There have also been renewed attempts to kick South Africa out of Agoa when it is extended. This was because of South Africa’s position on the Ukraine-Russia war and because South Africa was viewed as close to Russia.
Following the docking of Lady R in Simon’s Town almost a year ago, US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, accused South Africa of selling arms to Moscow.
But this was denied by Pretoria, and Ramaphosa set up an independent panel to investigations the allegations. A few months ago the panel found no arms were loaded on to the Russian ship.
Pandor, who was replying to a written parliamentary question from IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa, said South Africa would not compromise on its non-aligned position.
“While our continued participation in Agoa is extremely valuable to addressing the goals of our National Development Plan and the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, we cannot compromise our independent foreign policy stance,” said Pandor.
“In relation to Agoa, it is most unfortunate that South Africa’s continued participation in Agoa has been weaponised by some members of the US Congress. South Africa has on several occasions acknowledged the importance of the United States as our third largest trading partner, China being first, followed by Europe. The United States remains the largest single source of Foreign Direct Investment in South Africa and is an important source of technology transfer, tourism, and skills development.
“South Africa values our strategic relations with the United States and is committed to strengthening these relations for mutual benefit. As a result of consistent lobbying by South Africa, the US administration supported the hosting of the Agoa forum in South Africa,” said Pandor.