Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

US officials have made no link between SA’s plan to expropriate land without compensation and the country’s access to trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), trade and industry minister Rob Davies said.

One of the conditions for being eligible for Agoa, which favours 39 African nations by eliminating import levies on more than 7,000 products, is the protection of private property rights. Trade union Solidarity has warned that the ANC’s plan to change the constitution to allow expropriation without compensation, could jeopardise these benefits.

Officials from Davies’s department and the US Embassy met three times between June and August to discuss trade and the impact of steel and aluminium tariffs on SA’s duty-free benefits under Agoa, the minister said in a written response to a lawmaker’s question.

"In the few instances where the US raised the land issue, the DTI provided an update and explained the transparent and responsible approach that will be followed in decision making," Davies said "The embassy emphasised that the US government would not be taking sides but had an interest in seeing a legal and constitutional resolution of the issue."

US President Donald Trump weighed in on the South African land debate last month when he tweeted that he’d told secretary of state Mike Pompeo "to closely study the South African land and farm seizures".