The latest attempt by US congressmen to galvanise the US administration into taking action against SA highlights, once again, the delicate balancing act that the government has to maintain between remaining steadfast to its principles (or loyal to its allies — whichever way one sees it) and keeping its major trading and investment partners on side.

In 2023, US Democratic senator Chris Coons drafted a bill calling for an immediate review of SA’s participation in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which allows duty-free access to some products from Africa and SA into the US market. SA was not excluded in the end, but this required intense lobbying in Washington by SA government ministers and officials...

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