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9 Feb 2017
11:06 pm

Economic ties with EU and US still important, Zuma says


The president says that he's looking to Brics, particularly China, but not abandoning the West.

President Jacob Zuma with Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, Minister of trade and Industry Rob Davies and Minister in the President Jeff Radebe during the Business Interaction Group on South Africa at 2016 WEF Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. 22/01/2016, Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

Despite the negative impact of imported poultry in the domestic economy, South Africa’s trade with traditional partners in the West remained a significant contributor to the country’s economy, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.

“We will continue to partner with the United States and work together on issues of mutual interest such as the full renewal of African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA),” Zuma said.

Zuma said this during his State of the Nation address in Parliament on Thursday evening.

South African poultry producers have started scaling down production and implementing thousands of retrenchments due to the influx of imported cheap chicken from Brazil, Argentina, and European Union (EU) countries.

Regarding South Africa’s relationship with the EU countries, Zuma said the Joint Africa-EU Strategy remained an important long-term framework for continued cooperation at continental partnership level.

“The Economic Partnership agreement with the EU came into force in September 2016, thus providing new market access opportunities for South African products,” Zuma said.

“Almost all South African products, about 99 percent will have preferential market access in the EU. About 96 percent of the products will enter the EU market without being subjected to customs duties or quantitative restrictions.”

Zuma also said that South Africa’s cooperative partnerships with other regions were bearing fruit.

He said the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) New Development Bank had recorded encouraging progress.

“We are also pleased with agreements with our BRICS partners in the field of agriculture. We will implement off-take agreements on the export of pulses, mangoes and pork to India,” Zuma said.

“We will also export twenty thousand tons of beef to China per year for a period of 10 years. We will continue to pursue the reform of the international system because the current configuration undermines the ability of developing countries to contribute and benefit meaningfully.”

Zuma also welcomed the Goa BRICS Heads of State and Government decision to establish the BRICS Ratings Agency, saying that it would assist each country in assessing their economic paths.

– African News Agency (ANA)