U.S to renew AGOA, says Obama

U.S. President, Barack Obama

The American President wished Nelson Mandela a quick recovery.

President Barack Obama on Saturday in Pretoria, South Africa, said America’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) would be renewed.

Mr. Obama told journalists at the joint press briefing with South African President, Jacob Zuma, at the Union Building in Pretoria that “trade negotiators still have to work out the details’’.

The Act grants African countries trade concessions in the U.S. This allows for a range of products from eligible African countries to have duty-free access to American markets.

Mr. Obama, however, commended the trade and investment relationship between the emerging global economies with the African continent.

“I think it is a good thing that China, India, Turkey and Brazil are paying a lot of attention to Africa.

“This is not a zero-sum game. This is not the Cold War. You have got one global market and if countries that are now entering into middle-income status see Africa as a big opportunity for them, that can potentially help Africa,” he said.

The U.S president said the model was “greatly preferable’’ for a country like Senegal, where he started his three-nation tour.

While there, he had announced a new partnership to boost agriculture and fight poverty and hunger.

“In my discussions, a lot of people are pleased that China is involved in Africa.

“On the other hand, they recognise that China’s primary interest is being able to obtain access for natural resources in Africa to feed the manufacturers in export-driven policies of the Chinese economy,” Mr. Obama said.

He said that had often left Africa as simply an exporter of raw goods, saying that was not a lot of value added.

“As a consequence, not a lot of jobs are created inside Africa and it does not become the basis for long-term development,” the U.S president said.

The president said further that the involvement of emerging powers in Africa was a sign of the continent’s economic potential. He said it also represented “a warning to the U.S that it cannot afford to stay on the sidelines’’.

On the three-nation tour of Africa, with Mr. Obama, were some of his top economic advisers and chief executives from blue-chip American firms. The trip, among other things, intends to drive new American investment and business links with the continent.

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama has expressed his wish that ailing former South African president Nelson Mandela would get well soon.

“Our thoughts are with Nelson Mandela and his family, and all of South Africa,” he said.

Mr. Obama said Mr. Mandela had been a personal inspiration to him, and it was “great’’ to see what was happening in South Africa when so many other regions were divided by conflict and disputes.

“Seeing people standing up for what’s right, I think, continues to shine as a beacon of hope,” he said.

The U.S president said the outpouring of love for Mandela had showed what he meant to South Africans and the world.

In his remarks at the occasion, Mr. Zuma said Obama was visiting South Africa at the right time.

“We are pleased to be working with you today with a common goal of expanding trade and relations between our two countries,” he said in a televised press briefing.

Mr. Zuma said his country would like to see the U.S invest in the South African economy for mutual benefits. He said youth development was a key focus area, while also pointing out that South Africa remained concerned at the lack of progress in the Middle East peace process.

“We are of the view that lasting peace in the Middle East will not be possible without addressing the other problems in the region.

“We are encouraged by the positive steps you have taken to relax long-standing restrictions in the mid-East region and Zimbabwe,” Mr. Zuma said.

Mr. Obama, who had visited Senegal, arrived South Africa on Friday night as part of his three-nation visit.

He was expected to leave South Africa on Sunday for Tanzania.

(NAN)


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