The 20th African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) Forum, which will take place in Johannesburg next week, is set to widen the trade corridors between South Africa, Africa, and the United States of America.
The forum will bring together the governments of the United States and Agoa-eligible countries, as well as representatives from key regional economic organisations, the private sector, civil society, and labour.
Aiming to secure another 10-year agreement, Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition Ebrahim Patel said they were also looking forward to adding more products and further investment and technical support that would allow more medium-sized businesses to access the market.
Patel will be joined by United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai in leading the discussions at the forum.
For the first time, the voices of workers would also be formally represented in the forum, with South Africa’s labour union, Cosatu, and US labour unions going into talks.
The theme of this year’s forum is Partnering to Build a Resilient, Sustainable, and Inclusive Agenda to Support Economic Development, Industrialisation and Quality Job Creation.
In a media briefing at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton on Thursday, Patel said they were looking to redefine Africa’s role in the world by expanding its value-added trade to the world market.
In Africa, South Africa was the single biggest provider of minerals to the US and exported at least three times more than any other African country.
Patel said this forum would reaffirm the significant relationship between the two countries.
To date, 360 delegates from the US business sector, including the US Chamber of Commerce, together with delegates from Business Unity South Africa (Busa), Black Business Council, and Business Leadership South Africa, have registered for the forum.
Patel said that at least 80 labour representatives have also registered.
The forum will also feature the “Made in Africa Exhibition,” which will showcase regional value chains on the continent.
Patel said that 520 firms were expected to exhibit, with US states and African countries sending supply chain representatives and procurement officers to “shop” through the exhibit.
The exhibition will also be opened to the public on days yet to be announced.