US president-elect Donald Trump is likely to be
as indifferent to Africa as he was when he
made his first foreign policy campaign speech
in April – when he barely mentioned the
But the South African wine, fruit and luxury-
car businesses that trade with the US and
benefit from the provisions of the African
Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) are unlikely
to be adversely affected until 2025, when the
trade agreement ends.
The act improves access to the US market for
many South African goods and allows fruit and
wine from Western Cape to be exported duty-
free to America.
“This law is enacted by Congress. It will not be
directly affected by the presidential election,”
said SA Poultry Association head Kevin Lovell.
Trump has promised to put “America first”,
raising concerns about changes in US foreign
But even with Trump’s insular attitude, the
head of the Western Cape Investment and
Trade and Promotion Agency, Tim Harris, said
he did not foresee a cancellation of the
agreement, but the agency would “keep its eye
on the ball”.
“The real risk is after 2025, when the Agoa
If Trump is re-elected after a four-year term,
his second term will end in 2024.
Harris said that between 2001 and 2014 South
Africa’s exports of Agoa products to the US
increased by an annual average of 44% – from
R3.9-billion to R16.6-billion.
Although South Africa’s Agoa benefits are not
immediately under threat, some analysts are
concerned about the long-term effect of
Trump’s inward-looking attitude on world
“South Africa must also assess what new
geopolitical risks may arise in the event of a
more confrontational Trump foreign policy
towards countries like China or Russia, with
which South Africa has important economic
commitments,” said North West University
School of Business and Governance professor
Other analysts have said it is too early to
predict the effects of a Trump presidency
outside the US.
The rand weakened yesterday as expected.
“The markets will react to almost any changes
in political leadership,” said Ismail Lagardien,
executive dean of the faculty of business at the
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
“We have to wait for the dust to settle and for
clarity on Donald Trump’s actual policies.
“Remember, until last night it was all about
electioneering, which is accompanied by a lot
of noise and rhetoric.”
Wits economics professor Tinashe Chuchu said:
“If we are to take him at his word during
campaigning, Trump proposed much higher
tariffs on goods from outside the country – up
to 15% increases in tax, which could affect
South African businesses exporting into
America [not under Agoa], which are already
In that event, South Africa might have to look
at doing more business with China, he said.
Trump had promised to boost jobs in US
manufacturing, including the car industry,
which was gutted by the 2008 financial
markets crash. He is expected to push for
tougher immigration laws, as promised in the
now infamous speech in which he threatened
to erect a wall along the US-Mexico border.
Chuchu said it might become harder for South
Africans to get work visas or emigrate to the
Countries such as Malawi, which rely heavily
on US aid, could face major setbacks,
University of Johannesburg humanities
professor Peter Vale writes in The
Tusk, Juncker invite Trump to EU summit ‘at
earliest convenience’: letter
“As a businessman, Trump will want something
in return and it’s unlikely he will get his sort of
returns on investments in most African
countries. His response might be that of a
reality-show host – eject errant contestants.”
The US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids
Relief has been central to South Africa’s efforts
to stem the spread of HIV/Aids and treat those
who have contracted the HI virus. The fund
committed to giving $500-million for South
Africa’s Aids response in 2012. It will provide
$250-million next year.
New York HIV/Aids activist Mitchell Warren
said Trump’s relative silence on global HIV/
Aids research and treatment has left the health
community with “understandable anxiety”.
“[The emergency plan] has strong bipartisan
support in the US and we have to hope that
President Trump does not derail these precious
The US embassy said the US had bi-partisan
support for US-Africa policy for years. –
Additional reporting by Shaun Gillham