The extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act is providing African countries with fresh business opportunities thanks to duty-free access to U.S. markets. Ashling O'Malley reports.
This production line is making top range BMWs - but it's not in Germany, it's in Pretoria. The auto industry in South Africa is a key one - it accounts for around 6 percent of the economy and 12 per cent of exports. That could be about to rise - thanks to the renewal of a key trade programme. The African Growth and Opportunity Act gives African countries duty-free access to U.S. markets. Edward Makwana is BMW's communications manager in South Africa. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) Edward Makwana - communications manager at BMW South Africa, saying: "The USA is one of the biggest export markets that we export our 3 series sedan." Ford, General Motors and Nissan also make cars in South Africa. Their high value means big benefits for the economy, says Dumile Cele, Chief Executive of Durban's Chamber of Commerce. (SOUNDBITE) (English) Dumile Cele - The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive, saying: "Manufacturing ensures economic activity, which creates the jobs that South Africa needs. So that is really the real benefit of AGOA within a developing country." Nearly 40 African countries export products to the States. They include base metals, chemicals and citrus fruit, along with wines and nuts. Not every country benefits - and that's a problem for some. This week a meeting is being held in Gabon to discuss how other African states can benefit too. In South Africa it creates 62,000 jobs - and with one in four out of work - that's a big bonus.