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Wesgro asks for urgent meeting to protect WC exports under AGOA

More than R780m worth of Western Cape annual exports are at risk if the United States goes ahead with its plan to suspend trade benefits on agricultural goods from South Africa under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA.)

“Wesgro will ask for an urgent meeting with the Minister of Trade and Industry and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to ensure that Western Cape farmers and producers do not lose their duty preference,” said Wesgro CEO Tim Harris last week.

The trade benefits under AGOA are especially important to the wine, citrus fruit, fruit juice and dried fruit sectors who together export more than R780m annually to the US under AGOA.

“I will be asking representatives from these sectors to join me in the meetings to make the case for protecting the jobs in the sector,” said Harris. The citrus sector in the Western Cape alone employs around 6000 people, 4000 employed in sector-related jobs.

“We have to find a resolution to this dispute because the United States is a key growth market for local agricultural products,” Harris explained. The Western Cape’s exports to the United States under AGOA increased by an annual average growth rate of 16% between 2001 and 2014.

The Western Cape in particular has been a significant beneficiary of AGOA’s preferential trade agreement and without it our citrus and wine industry will struggle to compete against the likes of Argentina, Chile and Peru who benefit from preferential trade agreements.

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