South Africa announced its commitment to host a U.S.-Africa trade summit in November, despite earlier demands from the U.S. legislators to relocate the event due to concerns about South Africa’s perceived deepening military ties with Russia.
A joint statement issued by U.S. and South African officials, says that Johannesburg would be the venue for the U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum. The event is scheduled to take place from 2nd to 4th November.
The summit will primarily focus on matters regarding the future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a flagship trade initiative by Washington. The AGOA is designed to grant African nations tariff-free access to the U.S. market.
United States Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, expressed optimism about the prospects of the African continent, as President Biden emphasized that “the future is Africa.” Tai eagerly anticipates her visit to South Africa to explore opportunities to enhance the transformative potential of AGOA.
However, prominent members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate urged the Biden administration to consider an alternative location for the U.S.-Africa Summit. They pointed to South Africa’s joint naval exercises with China and Russia in February and its plans to host Russian President Vladimir Putin at a BRICS summit. Also, they suggested that South Africa’s trade benefits under AGAO might be revoked.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s trade minister, Ebrahim Patel, shifted the focus away from these controversies and emphasized the need to extend AGOA. He argued that extending AGOA beyond 2025 would stimulate investment in Africa, benefitting both the United States and African nations.