The most important in this week’s headlines out of and concerning Africa, for those who need help catching up.
In this week’s news, South Africa goes head-to-head with the U.S. over chicken, meat and pork, and a new case of Ebola is discovered in Sierra Leone a day after it is declared Ebola-free.
Uncertainly about South Africa’s role in the new African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) agreement seems over after the country settled the trade dispute with the U.S.
Under the agreement signed by U.S. President, Barack Obama in 2015, South Africa was due to receive the first shipment of U.S. bone-in chicken portions in March 2015. The agreement would allow tons of meat and chicken products from the U.S. into South Africa duty-free.
In return the U.S. would allow certain South African products to enter the U.S. tariff –free.
However with the recent announcement by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that it had discovered a new strain of the Avian Flu at a turkey farm in Indiana, tensions arose between the two countries.
Essentially the South African government protested and threatened to pull out of the arrangement because it deemed poultry products from the U.S. to be unsafe. On its part, the U.S. was going to retaliate by not buying from South Africa.
The back and forth was resolved January 13 when the two countries came to an agreement by adopting a so-called regional approach whereby “only exports from infected states will be prohibited.”
U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman, welcomed the resolution, according to the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development.
“While we celebrate the progress we have made in resolving the outstanding technical issues, the true test of our success will be based on the ability of South African consumers to buy American products in local stores.”
While poking fun at what seemed like a game of chicken, South Africa’s News 24 network described the row as follows:
“You would’ve heard about the Act recently after our own country’s involvement was on the proverbial fence, after US chicken was denied entry for not meeting the relevant safety standards that the Department of Trade and Industry has in place. Essentially, if we won’t buy, they won’t buy… which has a rather large impact on our own export market. In 2015, South Africa and the United States traded to the tune of R217 billion – no amount to sneeze at, especially in light of our ailing economy. What’s also important to note is that trade enters the US quota and duty-free.”
2. Ebola in Sierra Leone, Again
While Guinea and Liberia are now Ebola-free, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the country of Sierra Leone remains in the throes of the deadly virus. A day after it was declared free from the disease, Liberia is back in the news, with the confirmation of a new case.
As we learn from this Time magazine story, 109 people have been quarantined after a 22-year-old student died from the disease on January 12.