USA tries to hit South Africa

11:33 01.04.2024 •

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) pointed out that South Africa's legal case against Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over its war on the Gaza Strip and other developments are causing Congress to reexamine Washington's ties with what it called "our non-friends in Pretoria."

In an opinion piece, the newspaper's editorial board echoed a similar statement by Israel and considered that "South Africa held hands with Hamas in January and charged Israel with genocide at the International Court of Justice."

It said that the US-South Africa Bilateral Relations Review Act passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee 36-13 with bipartisan support.

According to the piece, the bill mentioned that South Africa has a "history of siding with malign actors," which include the Palestinian Resistance movement Hamas, Russia, and China.

The House bill added that the ruling African National Congress party hosted three Hamas members in Pretoria last December, and said that in February 2023, South Africa hosted trilateral naval exercises with Russia and China.

It noted that the legislation was passed while South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor was in Washington as part of a progressive speaking tour.

The WSJ's editorial board said that Pandor is known for her anti-Israeli foreign policy stance, adding that the top diplomat has warned South African citizens fighting with the Israeli occupation forces or alongside them in the Gaza Strip will face arrest upon returning home.

Given these emerging alliances, American lawmakers are reviewing the benefits South Africa receives under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the piece indicated. This includes over $3 billion in duty-free exports to the United States.

The legislation, under review, requires US President Joe Biden to determine whether South Africa has allegedly engaged in activities that undermine the national security of the United States or its foreign policy interests, the piece added.

South Africa petitioned the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to impose fresh emergency measures on "Israel" over the "widespread starvation" resulting from its war on the Gaza Strip.

It is the second time Pretoria has asked the court for additional measures; its first request in February was denied.

The ICJ found, at the end of January, that Israel's actions in Gaza possibly constituted a genocide…

The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee verbally passed the US-South Africa Bilateral Relations Review Act, with some modifications, with 36 votes to 13. Once the vote is formalised, it will be considered by the full House to be debated and voted on.

The bipartisan bill, brought by Republican John James and Democrat Jared Moscowitz, says that 30 days after it is made law, Biden must publicly release "an unclassified determination explicitly stating whether South Africa has engaged in activities that undermine United States national security or foreign policy interests".

In November last year, US Democratic Senator Chris Coons, who has historic ties to SA, wrote a document proposing several amendments to legislation renewing the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), including that there should be an immediate review of SA’s status for preferential trade access.

AGOA, which is up for renewal in 2025, gives duty-free access to 25% of South African exports to the US, SA's second-biggest single-country trading partner after China. The WSJ, and others, quantify the benefit as more than $3 billion (R57 billion).

"South African goods exports totalled $123.0 billion in 2022. Of this, 8.9% went to the US, and only a fifth of these goods benefitted from AGOA preferences in 2022. Therefore, AGOA accounted for only 1.9% of South Africa’s global goods exports in 2022, suggesting that the benefits of AGOA are quite limited, with only around $3 billion worth of South African exports benefitting from AGOA preferences."

American think-tank, the Brookings Institution, said the "narrative that a loss of AGOA benefits would have catastrophic consequences for South Africa is uninformed", adding that the direct impact of the loss of AGOA preferences on South Africa’s export and economic growth "would be very small".

"But a loss of AGOA could have ramifications for the US. The US relies on South Africa for a range of critical minerals," the institute said.

"In 2021, the US imported nearly 100% of its chromium from South Africa as well as over 25% of its manganese, titanium, and platinum. Leveraging AGOA as a form of economic diplomacy is key for encouraging the security of critical mineral supplies."


… Well. If the United States wants to ruin its relations with one of the most influential states in Africa, with one of the leaders in Africa, it will bring Washington to more problems on the continent. On the political scales Africa is on one side and Israel is on the other. As usual the US opts for sanctions…


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