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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

South Africa to host US commerce discussion board as diplomatic tensions subside

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JOHANNESBURG — South Africa will host a gathering in November of countries taking part within the U.S. Africa Progress and Alternative Act regardless of earlier calls to exclude the nation from the discussion board on account of its ties to Russia and the docking of a sanctioned Russian vessel close to Cape City final 12 months.

AGOA is U.S. laws that permits sub-Saharan African nations duty-free entry to the U.S. market supplied they meet sure circumstances, together with that they “should get rid of boundaries to U.S. commerce and funding, enact insurance policies to cut back poverty, fight corruption, and shield human rights.”

Earlier this 12 months, some American lawmakers from each the Republican and Democratic events urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken to maneuver the assembly of the discussion board elsewhere following allegations that South Africa equipped arms to Russia for its battle in Ukraine.

They mentioned shifting the assembly to a unique nation would ship a message that america wouldn’t settle for its buying and selling companions aiding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and questioned South Africa’s eligibility to obtain commerce advantages from AGOA.

Additionally they cited South Africa’s internet hosting of army drills with Russia and China earlier this 12 months. South Africa has additionally been criticized for not publicly opposing Russia’s battle towards Ukraine.

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The U.S. and South Africa introduced in a joint assertion that the discussion board might be held in Johannesburg, indicating a mending of relations following months of diplomatic tensions.

“I stay up for visiting South Africa in November to debate our shared priorities, reaffirm the Administration’s dedication to the continent, and focus on alternatives to make AGOA extra transformative as we deepen our commerce and funding relations with the sub-Saharan African nations,” U.S. Commerce Consultant Katherine Tai mentioned.

South Africa is likely one of the largest beneficiaries of AGOA, with exports to the U.S. by means of the act estimated at $3 billion in 2022.

The spokesperson for South Africa’s Overseas Ministry, Clayson Monyela, lauded the announcement, describing it as a “victory for South African diplomacy.”

“Some lobbied for the Discussion board to be moved from SA and for South Africa to be kicked out of AGOA. Some even mentioned we’d be punished with sanctions. Our diplomacy and advocacy equipment kicked in and prevailed,” Monyela mentioned on X, previously often known as Twitter.

A panel appointed by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to research allegations that South Africa loaded arms destined for Russia onto the vessel Russian Girl R discovered there was no proof to assist the declare, which was made by the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety.

It additionally discovered that South Africa was not conscious that the ship transporting army gear ordered by the South African Nationwide Protection Pressure from the United Arab Emirates was a sanctioned Russian vessel.

Leaders from varied nations in sub-Saharan Africa and organizations are anticipated to attend the discussion board on Nov. 2-4.

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