‘America open for African business’

The US ambassador to South Africa says Agoa negotiations were tough, but dignified.

One of the most contentious aspects of the Agoa negotiations has been the import of chicken into the local market.Picture: EPA/Nic Bothma

JOHANNESBURG - United States ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard, says with the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) trade agreement ironed out the hope is that it can now start growing the local economy.

Agoa is an agreement that opens up American markets to South African goods.

One of the most contentious aspects has been the import of chicken into the local market.

Gaspard says the negotiations were tough, but always dignified.

"I have to say that 'sorted out' is one of my favourite South African phrases - it sums it all up. Yes, we are sorted. Chicken, beef and more importantly the enduring relationship between our two countries that right now we are just focused on helping to grow the South African economy and create jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.'"

He says recent political claims that America was somehow trying to destabilise South Africa will not damage the diplomatic relationship between the nations, which he described as having a "deep reservoir of trust".

A week ago Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies announced that lengthy negotiations with the US on the import of American poultry, beef and pork have now been concluded.

Davies says this means South Africa's set to benefit from Agoa for the next 10 years.

In a statement, Davies says the first shipment of American poultry should be on supermarket shelves by 15 March, after the consignment which arrived in Durban and was cleared by port health authorities.

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