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US moves to cut South African farm trade privileges

US President Barack Obama moved Thursday to cut off duty-free treatment for hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of South African farm goods, citing its continuing barriers to US imports.

Obama sent an official notice to Congress saying that in 60 days the US will suspend that duty-free treatment granted agricultural products from South Africa under the 2000 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

“I am taking this step because South Africa continues to impose several longstanding barriers to US trade,” Obama said.

He said the country had committed to cutting barriers to US goods under AGOA, but had not followed through.

“I have determined that such suspension of benefits would be more effective in promoting compliance by South Africa” to its AGOA promises, he said.

The move affects a substantial amount of exports by South African farmers. In 2013, the country shipped $253 million worth of agricultural products to the United States.