South Africa and Africa in general benefited immensely from the recent US-Africa Leaders’ Summit held in Washington, said Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
“By and large, there are a lot of positive things we gained from the summit… The message from all of us was that the African continent needs to industrialise and there were a lot of echoes in that regard,” he said.
Minister Davies added that the major victory from the summit was the commitment by US President Barack Obama to support the renewal of the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA), and the various investments he announced to the tune of US$33 billion in Africa through the programme called Doing Business in Africa.
More than 40 Heads of State and Government, including President Jacob Zuma, attended the summit, which was convened by President Obama in August. The summit focused on peace and security as well as trade between Africa and the world’s economic giant.
On the renewal of AGOA, Minister Davies said the summit provided an indication that US believes a lengthy re-authorisation of AGOA was justified.
“They are looking at possibilities of improving AGOA. They said they are looking at the eligibility criteria… They are looking at countries that did not qualify… I think that was the message from our side that was pretty good news,” he said.
Congress is scheduled to vote on the renewal of AGOA, whose current term expires next year.
President Obama said he was confident that congress would back the renewal of the scheme.
South Africa is the only country that makes extensive use of the tariff trade preferences provided by the US through AGOA and other schemes.
Meanwhile, Minister Davies says there are a lot of partnerships South Africa can build with Hollywood studios to grow the local film industry.
This follows his visit to Hollywood, Los Angeles, where he visited Disney and 20th Century Fox, among other big names in the film industry.
A study conducted by the National Film and Video Foundation found that in 2012, the film industry in South Africa employed around 25 000 compared to around 4 000, 10 years ago.
Minister Davies attributed the growth in the local film industry to government’s role in developing capacity within the industry through rebates and investment in film studios.
The rebates programme, which is operated by the Department of Trade and Industry, seeks to promote South African productions. It allows producers to get 20-25 per cent in rebates for locally produced films.
“It has led to a substantial increase in the number of films produced in SA,” Minister Davies said.