SAfrica trade pact

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa and the United States have agreed on health and safety standards of US meat exports, Pretoria announced on Thursday, ending a deadlock that put at risk a key preferential trade arrangement. In November, US President Barack Obama threatened to eject South Africa from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), citing continued barriers to US imports and setting a December 31 deadline. That deadline passed without resolution, but intense negotiations resolved the impasse over the last week, South African Trade Minister Rob Davies said at a press conference on Thursday. During months of negotiations, South Africa last year agreed to a 65,000-tonne quota of US chicken imports and also lifted a ban on US beef imports in place following outbreaks of mad cow disease. But concerns over salmonella levels in US chickens had remained a sticking point in discussions.