Statement on United States economic threats against South Africa
12 January 2016
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) of the United States was signed into law in 2000, as Title 1 of the United States’ Trade and Development Act of 2000. It was presented as a non-reciprocal trade and investment policy aimed at supporting economic growth and development in Africa, sub-Sahara, through preferential treatment. It came as a surprise to us as the SACP, that the United States wants South Africa to reciprocate, and even worse by means of unfair measures without regard to human and animal health.
Towards the end of 2015 the Obama administration announced that it was intending to suspend South Africa’s agricultural products from market access in the United States offered under Agoa. The reason that was given was that South Africa, allegedly, did not make continual progress toward the elimination of the so-called barriers to United States trade and investment as required by section 104 of Agoa.
There was no mention by the United States, of the perspectives independently held and expressed by the tripartite alliance and its partners in South Africa, as the reason for the intended suspension. The SACP will treat any information to that effect cautiously, until or unless the United States makes it clear that their underlying problem on Agoa is the tripartite alliance or its partners and their analysis of reality.
For the record, South Africa is an independent country, and so are all our tripartite alliance partners. All the rights of our independence are strictly reserved. We will continue to think and act independently without any undue, foreign, influence!
Problems in international relations also arise when one country, in this case the United States using Agoa, wants to extent its influence on other countries such as South Africa and ultimately usurp their policy making powers. Through its Trade and Investment Act of 2000 on which Agoa is based, for instance the United States prohibits state ownership and subsidies by other countries. Yet it is itself subsidising its own agricultural sector by means of insurance and other payments linked to production and productivity.
We have fought for our country’s democratic national sovereignty for over many years for us to simply hand it over on a silver platter to foreign influence.
As the SACP we reiterate our support for our government’s principled stances on the current negotiations with the United States relating to agricultural market access and Agoa. The negotiations are, as far as we are concerned, essentially about public and animal health in South Africa. They are essentially also about ensuring that our economy is not destroyed by unfair trade practices. The chicken legs for example that the United States wants to export to South Africa constitutes dumping. Dumping is very dangerous economically and can displace local production and jobs if not confronted and dealt with for what it is.
United States or any imports that do not comply with health standards of good practice on food are dangerous, but not only to the health of our entire flock of chicken and livestock. They are dangerous to the health of our people, who will buy and consume those products in South Africa. We do not want food poisoning in South Africa. If the United States values public health, it should not have any problems with complying with health standards of good practice on food!!
Statement issued by the SACP, 12 January 2016