United States President Barack Obama has pledged support for the push to have the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) extended.
Speaking during a media briefing at the Union Buildings in Pretoria today, Obama said he supported moves to “improve” and “renew” Agoa.
Agoa – which allows Southern African countries to ship certain products to the US tariff-free – expires in 2015.
Obama said he would first have to convince the US Congress, which had to approve the extension of the Act.
The extension of Agoa formed part of bilateral discussion between Obama and President Jacob Zuma, and their respective delegations.
Zuma also re-affirmed the need for Agoa to be extended.
“Our mutual trade has reached the levels preceding the global recession, largely due to the Act,” Zuma said.
“Arising out of this visit we would like to see increased investment in the South African economy for mutual benefit.”
There were currently 600 US companies operating in South Africa, which have created more than 150 000 jobs.
“The US is also a major export market for South African products.
“South Africa in turn is your biggest market in Africa, accounting for more than seven billion US dollars of exports,” Zuma said.
Zuma said South Africa had put several bankable projects on the table.
These included projects for infrastructure development and skills development for the youth.
“We have urged that underpinning these investments should be the drive for regional integration, industrialisation and localisation of supply and manufacture.”
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