South Africa Says U.S. Doesn't Link AGOA Access to Land Plan

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. officials have made no link between South Africa’s plan to expropriate land without compensation and the country’s access to trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said.

One of the conditions for being eligible for AGOA, which favors 39 African nations by eliminating import levies on more than 7,000 products, is the protection of private property rights. Trade union Solidarity has warned the ruling African National Congress’s plan to change the constitution to allow expropriation without compensation, could jeopardize these benefits.

Officials from Davies’s department and the U.S. Embassy met three times between June and August to discuss trade and the impact of steel and aluminium tariffs on South Africa’s duty free benefits under AGOA, the minister said in a written response to a lawmaker’s question.

“In the few instances where the U.S. raised the land issue, the DTI provided an update and explained the transparent and responsible approach that will be followed in decision making,” Davies said “The embassy emphasized that the U.S. government would not be taking sides but had an interest in seeing a legal and constitutional resolution of the issue.”

U.S. President Donald Trump weighed in on the South African land debate last month when he tweeted that he’d told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures.”

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