Washington and Pretoria have announced that the US-Africa trade summit, which will address the African Growth and Opportunity Act’s (AGOA) future, will be held in Johannesburg, indicating a mending of relations following months of diplomatic tensions over South Africa’s alleged deepening military ties with Russia.
South Africa will host he US-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum in Johannesburg despite earlier calls from Washington to exclude the country from the forum due to its alleged deepening military ties with Russia and the docking of a sanctioned Russian vessel near Cape Town in 2022. Some US lawmakers earlier urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken to move the meeting elsewhere following allegations that South Africa supplied arms to Russia for its war in Ukraine, and consequently questioned South Africa’s eligibility to receive trade benefits from AGOA.
On the agenda are crucial discussions surrounding the AGOA, a US legislation that allows sub-Saharan African countries tariff-free access to the US market provided they meet certain conditions, including that they “must eliminate barriers to U.S. trade and investment, enact policies to reduce poverty, combat corruption, and protect human rights.” With the AGOA set to expire on 30 September 2025, the summit will also delve into the future of this primary trade initiative for the African continent. As South Africa is one of the biggest beneficiaries of AGOA, with exports to the US through the act estimated at $3 billion in 2022, its trade minister has recently called for an extension of AGOA, in an attempt to move past these contentious issues.