After imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium, the USA is threatening to do the same on an important export for South Africa: cars.
South Africa’s exports of cars and automotive products to the USA have increased exponentially since the advent of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (Agoa) in 2000.
There was a 606% increase in exports to the USA from R3.2bn in 2005 and to R22.6bn in 2016. Imports from the USA have also increased, but at a lower rate, so now there is a large trade gap, which is precisely what the act intended; the idea was to encourage African industrialisation.
But this has caused a notable trade mismatch: in 2005, US exports to SA were about the same as imports; in 2016, they were about R11.5bn.