Sub-Saharan Africa
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South Africa Requests Early Extension of AGOA From US

© AP Photo / Andrew HarnikSouth Africa's Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor, right, accompanied by Secretary of State Antony Blinken
South Africa's Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor, right, accompanied by Secretary of State Antony Blinken - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 26.07.2023
Passed in 2000 under then-US President Bill Clinton and extended by Barack Obama in 2015 for ten years, the African Development and Opportunity Act (AGOA) looks to provide financial help for sub-Saharan African countries that do not undermine US national security or foreign policy objectives.
South Africa has asked the US government to explore an early renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act to spur investment on the continent, Ebrahim Patel, the country's minister of trade and industry, told local media.
Patel stressed that an early prolongation of AGOA as it stands would be preferred to a renegotiation of the agreement, which may require time to finalize.

"If we extend AGOA largely in its current form, we can incrementally improve the terms over the next few years,” the media quoted Patel as saying.

The official added that "African countries are keen on an early extension because it gives investors certainty to commit additional investment on the continent."
South Africa's call comes after several members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee reportedly sent a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in June urging him to "punish" Pretoria for its non-aligned stance on the conflict in Ukraine.
Specifically, the initiators suggested reconsidering whether South Africa should continue to benefit from AGOA and proposed that this year's AGOA summit, scheduled to be held in South Africa, be moved to another African country, according to the US media.
In June, Patel said that since the start of the Ukraine conflict and due to the UN Security Council vote, South Africa has come under "significant pressure."

South Africa's neutral position between Russia and the West regarding the Ukrainian conflict, as South African President Ramaphosa emphasized in May, has been a fuel for "extraordinary pressure" on Pretoria to choose one side or the other.

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks  - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 15.05.2023
Sub-Saharan Africa
South Africa Under 'Extraordinary Pressure' to Pick Sides in Ukraine Conflict
This was embodied in allegations by the US Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety who falsely claimed that Pretoria was providing arms to Russia, which both South Africa and Russia denied.
According to the president's office, Ramaphosa plans to attend the second Russia-Africa Summit, which will be held July 27-28 in Russia's St. Petersburg.

The summit proposes to consider four declarations and a three-year Action Plan to strengthen cooperation between Russia and African states in a number of areas, the South African presidency said.

In addition, participants in the African Peace Initiative on the Ukraine crisis will get an opportunity to discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin conflict resolution issues.