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US, South Africa relaunch bilateral TIFA

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

US, South Africa Relaunch Bilateral TIFA

by Leroy Baker,, Washington

The Deputy United States Trade Representative, Demetrios Marantis, has co-chaired a recent meeting with the South African Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies, of the US-South Africa Trade and Investment Council (TIFA Council), at which there was a re-launched discussion of a full range of trade issues.

The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between the two countries was signed on February 18, 1999. It established the TIFA Council as a high-level forum for discussions on trade and investment related-issues. The TIFA was active for a few years but was effectively put on hold, by mutual consent when the United States-Southern African Customs Union (SACU) free trade agreement negotiations began in 2003.

The TIFA has been inactive since then. In 2010, however, both sides agreed to reinvigorate the existing TIFA to enhance cooperation and regularize engagement on key bilateral trade and investment issues.

Among the issues discussed at the new meeting included the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which allows for the elimination of tariffs on almost all products exported by sub-Saharan African countries, together with other topics such as trade barriers, investment, intellectual property rights, transportation issues, and regional integration.

“South Africa is one of our important trading partners in Africa and a leader in the region,” said Marantis. “We are cooperating on many important trade and investment issues and are reinvigorating the US-South Africa TIFA to expand our cooperation in those areas, promote job creation, enhance our two-way trade, and further grow our respective economies.”

Total two-way goods trade between South Africa and the US was valued at USD13.8bn in 2010. US exports to South Africa grew to USD5.6bn in 2010, up 26.4% from 2009. US imports from South Africa reached USD8.2bn in 2010, a 39% increase from 2009. Of total US imports from South Africa during 2010, USD3.1bn entered duty-free under AGOA and the Generalized System of Preferences, an increase from USD2.4bn in 2009.