US Senator Chris Coons Calls for Urgent Evaluation of South Africa’s AGOA Eligibility

Powerful US Democratic Party Senator Chris Coons is circulating a discussion draft of a Bill to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) for 16 years that would also require an immediate “out-of-cycle” review of South Africa’s eligibility for Agoa.

That could lead to South Africa being removed next year from the programme, which has provided considerable benefits to SA exporters to the US of cars, fruits and wine, in particular.

Coons released the draft Bill on Monday, after the annual Agoa Forum was held in Johannesburg last week.

Much of the discussion focused on whether to renew Agoa when it expires in 2025, for how long and whether to change its terms.

Agoa grants duty-free access to the lucrative US markets for most exports from eligible sub-Saharan countries.

South Africa has been the biggest beneficiary of Agoa, but recently influential members of Congress, including Coons and Republican Senator Jim Risch, questioned SA’s eligibility because its warm ties with Russia were deemed to threaten US national security and foreign policy interests, violating an Agoa condition.

Last week, the Biden administration released the list of countries it is removing from Agoa next year because of military coups (Gabon and…

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