By SA News
A joint task force on trade and investment is to be established to expand bilateral economic ties between South Africa and the United States.
The formation of the task force follows on the conclusion of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s official working visit to the US. The visit was at the invitation of President Joseph Biden.
This comes as there was an agreement on the need to create a more attractive environment for American companies to invest in South Africa, where an estimated 600 US companies are already doing business in a range of sectors.
“A joint task force on trade and investment will be established to expand bilateral economic ties,” said the Presidency in a statement on Saturday.
In addition, South Africa will host the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum in 2023, which will map the next phase of Africa-US trade.
“President Ramaphosa welcomed the United States’ further commitment to improve bilateral trade and investment volumes, which will create much needed jobs and economic growth in South Africa,” said the Presidency adding that the President has expressed concerns about tariffs levied by the US on South African steel and aluminium products, which South Africa views as unfair and punitive.
President Ramaphosa departed the country for the US on Wednesday and met with President Biden at the White House on Friday to discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.
The Just Energy Transition also formed part deliberations.
“The leaders affirmed their commitment to the Just Energy Transition and agreed that South Africa will require more funding to achieve an effective and just transition that leaves no one behind and that protects workers and communities that would be affected by the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.”
The work on the investment plan for the Just Energy Transition Partnership between South Africa and the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and the European Union is expected to be completed by the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in November 2022 in Egypt.
Stability and global security
Discussions on global security and stability focused on the insurgent attacks in Mozambique. President Ramaphosa acknowledged the assistance currently being provided by the US in responding to the insurgent threat in Mozambique.
President Ramaphosa called for more US support in the provision of skills and resources to counter the terrorist activities that are causing great suffering in Mozambique and threaten the stability of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Africa’s food security also featured prominently in the meeting with both Heads of State.
“Following on from the discussions at the G7 meeting held in Germany this year, there is consensus on supporting Africa’s efforts towards fertiliser manufacturing, which will bolster Africa’s independence in ensuring the continent’s food security,” said President Ramaphosa.
Malign Russian Activities Bill
President Ramaphosa raised concern about the Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Bill, which is currently before the US Congress.
If it becomes law said President Ramaphosa, the Act would unfairly marginalise and punish African countries for exercising their sovereignty in their pursuit of development and economic growth.
The President also emphasised the need for an urgent end to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and and emphasised the leadership role of the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres can provide in leading a peace process.
Meanwhile, President Ramaphosa expressed appreciation for US support on health services capacitation and future pandemic preparedness. This includes the continued support for the PEPFAR [President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] programmes to combat HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis, and the support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Ramaphosa applauded the leadership role played by President Biden in assisting developing economies to strengthen their health systems and for support on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver on vaccine manufacturing.
Africa’s representation in key multilateral institutions was highlighted by President Ramaphosa. This includes the proposal for Africa’s admission through the African Union (AU) into the Group of 20 countries (G20).
“The absence of representation of 1.3 billion people from Africa in the United Nations Security Council remains a blight in the global democratic order,” said President Ramaphosa. Both leaders agreed on the need for broader reforms of the United Nations.
Building capacity of the state
President Ramaphosa tabled a proposal for a partnership with the US in supporting South Africa’s efforts to develop public servants, especially women.
“In this regard, South Africa’s National School of Government will work closely with leading American institutions in designing training programmes for South African public servants.”
Ahead of the meeting with President Biden, President Ramaphosa met with the United States Vice President Kamala Harris at her official residence, where they discussed women’s empowerment, health and security, partnership on technology and space exploration.