A senior South African government official said on Tuesday South Africa and the United States are exploring ways to deepen economic cooperation.
SA International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said after meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Pretoria that cooperation would focus on bilateral trade, investment and economic diplomacy.
The minister lauded the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) concluded by the two countries in June in a fresh bid to promote economic cooperation.
"This agreement provides a forum to better exchange views on improving the trade and investment climate and promoting new US investment that is critical to South Africa's national economic development," Nkoana-Mashabane said.
As a trade pact, TIFA establishes a framework for expanding trade and resolving outstanding disputes between nations. TIFAs are often seen as an important step towards establishing Free Trade Agreements.
Clinton is on an Africa tour designed to strengthen African partnerships as dictated by America's overall foreign policy objectives. More specifically, the US seeks to strengthen democratic institutions, help spur economic growth, trade, investment, advance peace and security and promote opportunity and development, according to US officials.
In 2011, trade between Pretoria and Washington was valued at 130 billion rands (15.8 billion dollars). The US is South Africa's third largest trading partner of which 98 percent of South Africa exports enter the US market duty free and quota free under the current dispensation of the US African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) which is expected to expire in 2015.
"We continue to urge our friends in the US government to consider the extension of AGOA beyond this date. We are optimistic that our discussions today will result in a step in the right direction," Nkoana-Mashabane said.
The minister said US continues to be one of the major contributors to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and is also a major contributor to Corporate Social Investment in South Africa.
"There are already approximately 600 US companies investing in South Africa. Similarly, South African companies are also investing in the US, contributing to job creation on both sides of the Atlantic," Nkoana-Mashabane said.
Clinton said Washington is exploring new ways to promote and expand partnership with South Africa which "has so much to offer to the rest of the world."