Tesla Motors, founded by South African-born billionaire Elon Musk, has expressed interest in investing in South Africa. The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies says he has encouraged the American automotive and energy storage company to work with the dti and the South African government to explore the possibility of setting up the manufacturing of Tesla products in the country.
This was revealed in a statement by the dti commenting on the minister’s visit to Washington, DC in the United States for the 15th Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum. The AGOA Forum is an annual forum taking place on an alternating basis between Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States.
Other highlights in the statement are:
At the 15th Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum that was held on 26 September 2016, African Ministers of Trade tabled an Africa position on the report titled “Beyond Agoa: Looking to the future of the US- Africa Trade and Investment”. The report was issued by the US on 22 September 2016, as required by Congress in line with the AGOA Extension and Enhancement Act of 2015.
The Ministers said they consider the Report as a start of a conversation on trade and investment relationship beyond AGOA. The African side will study the Report with a view to develop a position that is in line with the continental agenda and its objective to industrialise. However, they expressed a concern that the report is orientated towards a high standard reciprocal trading arrangement that covers a range of policy areas that may have implications for Africa’s efforts to industrialise and promote economic transformation.
African Ministers of Trade initial response amongst others included the following:
1. Sub-Sahara African (SSA) countries are concerned by the absence of asymmetry and differentiations in commitments in the US proposals and emphasize the need to take into account differences in levels of development.
2. SSA is also concerned by the proposed scope of the agreements envisaged by the US, which goes beyond agreements negotiated by African countries thus far.
3. They emphasised the importance of creating an AU Task Force to develop Africa’s strategy for trade and investment relationship with the US. The strategy will take into account challenges facing African countries in taking advantage of AGOA. To this end, the US is encouraged to provide incentives to its companies to invest in the continent to improve productive capacity to increase AGOA utilisation.
The Ministers also expressed their concern on the level of underutilisation of AGOA preferences by Sub-Saharan African countries. Under-utilisation is due to stringent standards and rules of origin which make it difficult for African products to meet the US market.
The US government was urged to bring greater flexibility in the application of rules of origin. The Ministers emphasised that AGOA eligible countries should be included in the list of designated countries under the Trade Agreements Act (19 U.S.C.& 2501 – 2581) that require the US Government to acquire only US made or designated country end products.