The action follows a US review of South Africa’s status as a full beneficiary of a preferential trade agreement under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which eliminates import levies on more than 7,000 products ranging from textiles to manufactured items.
The US determined that South Africa has continued imposing barriers to US trade, including American agricultural exports, according to a letter President Barack Obama sent to the Congress on Thursday. The suspension will become effective in 60 days, according to the notice.
The value of duty-free South African farming exports to the US market was $176 million in 2014, just a fraction of the $1.7 billion of trade under AGOA, according US Department of Commerce data. While that proportion may be low, the suspension threatens to strain trade relations between the nations.