Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition Ebrahim Patel.
- Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition Ebrahim Patel delivered his budget vote in Parliament on Wednesday.
- Patel warned of the dangers of exclusion from AGOA.
- He also announced several newly gazetted regulations.
- For more financial news, go to the News24 Business front page.
Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition Ebrahim Patel says the government “should do everything possible” to retain its special trade relationship with the US in light of the strained diplomatic relations between the two countries.
SA enjoys preference to the US market through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) of 2000, allowing African countries to export some of their products tariff-free. But the US has in the past punished countries – such as Cameroon – for behaving in a way considered counter to US interests.
The US has raised concerns that SA is too close to Russia and has said it suspects that SA busted Russian sanctions late last year when it loaded cargo, believed to be weapons, on to a visiting Russian ship late last year.
Patel, who spoke to journalists ahead of his budget vote in the National Assembly on Wednesday, said:
A significant part of SA’s exports to the US is under AGOA. We should do everything possible to retain that. It strengthens the position of SA exporters in the US market, and that helps to create more jobs locally.
He said that he and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana were actively lobbying Washington to ensure that SA is not excluded from AGOA.
READ | Godongwana: Poor handling of arms-to-Russia fiasco could be dire for SA, hurt ‘many livelihoods’
Patel also announced that he had published several government gazettes on policy and regulatory matters in the past week.
- The protection of the name “Cape flora” as SA property;
- A provision giving effect to a recent change to the Companies Act that will require companies to disclose the true ownership of their shares. This must be lodged with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission;
- A provision giving effect to changes made to the rules of the Competition Tribunal, enhancing its powers to conduct a market inquiry;
- The gazetting of a provision to exempt energy producers and energy users from aspects of the Competition Act. This will enable them to cooperate without fear of contravening anti-collusion provisions. This has been in the interest of solving the energy crisis; and
- Regulations on new standards for using energy-efficient LED light bulbs in offices and homes.
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