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South Africa's Trade surplus with the U.S. hitsa record high

Special report by Simon Barber and Sibusiso Bubesi inWashington D.C.

South Africa's trade surplus with the U.S. reached new highs asPresident Bill Clinton announced that the U.S. would be scrappingvirtually all of its remaining tariffs on South Africa imports. Forthe year up to October, the surplus in South Africa's favour reached$1.2billion, according to commerce department statistics.

The overall value of U.S.-South Africa trade $5.8bn for the first10 months is at a record high, with South Africa exports to the U.S.hitting 3,5bn. Imports from the U.S. rose to $2.3bn, thanks mainly toorders for passenger aircraft. "We think that with the implementationof the African Growth and Opportunity Act, U.S. -South Africa tradeis going to grow by 28 percent next year," Philip Bird, head of theAtlanta-based American Importers Association, said.

The act's removal of most remaining tariffs on the exports of SAand 33 other qualifying African countries is designed to attractexport- oriented investment to the region and encourage exportdiversification. South Africa's record trade with the U.S. this yearhas been driven by strong platinum prices, but other sectors playedan increasing role. U.S. imports of South Africa clothing, carcomponents, chemicals, beverages and jewellery are all at historichighs.

South Africa Chamber of Business (South africacob) spokesman JamesLennox has said that the wide range of products covered by the actwould afford most sectors of the South Africa economy enormousopportunities to identify and satisfy niche markets in the U.S.

The announcement was in line with the spirit of the act."Challenges posed to South Africa busiiness by these opportunitiesare substantial but not insurmountable and could be well worth theeffort. "South Africacob looks forward to the positive spin-offs tothe country and the region as a whole that any exports bring," SouthAfricaid Lennox.

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Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents."

These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'
Nwangwu, adviser to the Mayor of Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S., and immigrant home to thousands of Africans) argued further that "the issues of the heritage interests of 35 million African-Americans in Africa, the volume and value of oil business between between the U.S and Nigeria and the horrendous AIDS crisis in Africa do not lend any basis for Governor Bush's ill-advised position which removes Africa from fair consideration" were he to be elected president.
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