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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS OP-ED

US is committed to deepening trade ties and investing in the South African economy

US is committed to deepening trade ties and investing in the South African economy
Janet Yellen, US Treasury secretary, left, during a news conference with Enoch Godongwana, South Africa's finance minister, at the National Treasury in Pretoria, South Africa, on 26 January, 2023. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

South Africa has become America’s largest trading partner in Africa, with over $20-billion of two-way trade of goods. More than 600 American businesses now operate in South Africa.

A little over one year ago, US President Joe Biden hosted the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit and underscored that Africa will shape the future of the global economy. By 2050, Africa’s population is expected to grow from just over 1.4 billion people to over 2.5 billion people. One in every four people on Earth will be born in Africa. This demographic boom can create tremendous opportunity across the continent, but only if we invest in Africa’s most precious resource, its people.

Last year, US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen travelled to South Africa to demonstrate the Treasury Department’s commitment to a thriving Africa, with deeper ties not only between our two countries but also between our two continents.

We recognise a simple truth: economic growth in Africa is good for the global economy, including the American economy. That’s why the United States is committed to deepening trade ties, investing in the South African economy, and fostering people-to-people relationships among our citizens, businesses, and universities.

At the heart of our relationship is the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), our mutually beneficial economic partnership. South Africa has become America’s largest trading partner in Africa, with over $20-billion of two-way trade of goods. More than 600 American businesses now operate in South Africa. Ford has invested more than $1-billion in producing cars in South Africa, manufacturing companies like General Electric are setting up shop, and financial firms like Visa have also grown their footprint.

Read more in Daily Maverick: SA likely to secure trade status extension with US, say officials – but for how much longer?

Through the Prosper Africa initiative, we are looking to further connect both American and African businesses with new buyers, suppliers, investors, and economic opportunity. In just a few years, through this programme, we’ve helped close over 1,200 deals across 49 African countries. Over 100 of those deals were in South Africa — expanding the possibility for growth across wide-ranging sectors of the South African economy.

For example, one of those deals supported the co-financing of a $652-million investment in Aspen Pharmacare to support production of vaccines and other therapies in Africa, including at its facility in Gqeberha.

US trade, South Africa

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. (Photo: EPA-EFE/Michael Reynolds)

Energy and infrastructure targets

Beyond investment and financing, we know that for businesses to thrive anywhere in the world this century, they need to be able to rely on modern infrastructure and reliable access to energy. In the United States, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to revamp our roads, bridges, ports, airports, and more. He also signed the Inflation Reduction Act to quicken the development of new technology and lower energy prices globally. While we do this work in the United States, we are also committed to helping close Africa’s estimated $100-billion annual infrastructure gap.

That’s why we and the G7 have launched the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment to mobilise $600-billion into quality infrastructure projects by 2027 across the world and including in Africa.

Read more in Daily Maverick: New US Bill calls on the Biden administration to review America’s relations with SA

It’s also why we — alongside other members of the Just Energy Transition Partnership — are providing South Africa with $9.3-billion and technical assistance to jumpstart clean energy technology and ensure greater energy security. By deepening our trade partnership, rebuilding our infrastructure, and securing reliable energy, South Africa and the United States can unlock the potential of both our citizens and economies.

In the spirit of that partnership, I’ll be travelling to South Africa on 11 March 2024 to build on our joint work. I will meet with government counterparts to see how we can deepen our trade relationship, modernise our infrastructure, and catalyse a clean energy economy.

Most importantly, I will spend the bulk of my time meeting with students, entrepreneurs, and businesses to hear how we can be a better partner to the South African people. What will power the growth of Africa’s economy and, in turn, the global economy is the young people of South Africa. I am eager to hear about their creative ideas, innovations, and ambitions — and to learn how we can help them turn dreams into realities.

The United States is ready to be a partner to the South African people in growing an economy that works for everyone. DM

Wally Adeyemo is the United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. He is visiting South Africa from Monday 11 March 2024.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Steve Du Plessis says:

    Great story except for South Africa being in Irans pocket and at odds with everything America is trying to accomplish. More likely that there will be no trade with South Africa, job losses and starving South African children because the anc has all the wrong friends and sells our foreign policy to the highest bidder

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      America is more frustrated with Israel than South Africa, this is an olive branch to say partner we ignored you in Ukraine because we didn’t want a dialogue with Russia.
      Partner we approached Israel with our strategic benefits in mind can we work on this without the embarrassment, that will be following behind closed doors.
      Strategically Africa is now more important for Europe than Israel because of the high risk that has been created by the plausible genocide acts the Suez canal and red sea are proving to be a transit hot spot, the only viable transit is via the cape of good hope.
      Business has a bigger voice in the economy, America is burning cash which they return to the economy by buying their own weapons for Israel, it will definitely not compare with direct foreign investment.
      At some point the China/Russia momentum in Africa will out weigh the European support for Israel, coupled with the evident crimes against human and the odds with international law watchdogs, Israel is becoming a liability.
      The remaining question is the affordability of this liability?

  • Johan Buys says:

    Dear Janet:

    Please tie concessional finance to projects that are PPP with foreign private voting rights of at least 76% for the first 25 years of the project.

    Or, you could just flush the money down a drain.

    Insist on the piper calls the tune

  • GERALD ROBERTSON says:

    What is needed to power the growth of South Africa’s economy is very simple: the scrapping of BEE and cadre deployment. There is no shortage of excellent American economists who understand this perfectly well.

  • ST ST says:

    Ultimately all the political posturing and manoeuvring will likely come down to economics/power. The Agoa is not going. For a while now Africa has been predicted to enjoy the most future growth. Losing SA as the ‘most industrialised nation, African resources and influence may be seen as not ideal, particularly losing to the two arch nemeses who are already not so subtly trying to fill the power vacuum.

    US is already well invested in SA. It’s pure self interest. The US is not in the business of being made to look weak by a small nation. Of course the ANC will see it as its own victory. Anyone who takes on US friends and not lose would be. The issue with the ANC is why do it? Given their double standards about human rights at home and abroad.

    Nonetheless, investment will be good for desperate SA citizens who more & more depend on others rather than self

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