President Obama is committed to preserving the United States’ preferential trade deal with Africa and will immediately begin working with the new Congress to renew it if he’s reelected, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday during a stop in South Africa.
The 2000 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) allows most sub-Saharan countries to export their products duty-free. The law expires in 2015 and Clinton called its renewal the “centerpiece” of Obama’s strategy for Africa, unveiled in June.
South Africa’s eligibility for the trade pact has come under debate because sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economy is considered an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank. South Africa for example was excluded when Congress last week renewed an AGOA provision allowing African countries to export textiles and apparel to the United States duty-free using fabric from third countries.
“Currently 98 percent of South Africa’s exports enter the U.S. market duty-free and quota-free under the current dispensation of the U.S. Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA,” she said. “Africa is eagerly lobbying for its extension beyond 2015.”
Clinton said the administration intends that South Africa be included in the law’s reauthorization.
“Well, I can tell you that the United States is strongly committed to extending the African Growth and Opportunity Act,” Clinton said. “It is the centerpiece of our policy, and we want to see South Africa included in an extension.
“We’re going to start working on this when the new Congress comes in after the elections this year. So I can promise you our best efforts to make the case to get it extended, to make sure South Africa is included in it. That’s the position of the Obama Administration, and we’re going to do our very best to make sure that is done.”