TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

South Africa's Automotive Exports under AGOA Riding High

Tuesday, 05 December 2006


South African manufacturers of motor vehicles, parts and accessories have recorded excellent exports to the United States this year, based on recently released trade data. This shows that for the year to September 2006, auto exports (comprising HS chapter 87) to the US were worth US$ 392mn, exceeding comparative figures for 2005 by 84% and even full-year 2005 figures by 36%.

Some of the industry’s export success can be attributed to AGOA, which removes import tariffs on a number of Sub-Saharan Africa’s exports to the US. So far this year, 90% of South Africa’s US-bound automotive exports qualified under the programme, leading to savings on both sides of the Atlantic and increasing South African producers’ competitiveness in the large US market. About three quarters of the AGOA-eligible exports did not previously qualify for preferential market access, for example under the US Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

This underscores the value of AGOA, and while some of the tariffs it removes are relatively minor, they can have a significant impact on competitiveness. For example, on South Africa’s largest automotive export category to the US – passenger motor vehicles – the normal duty would have been 2.5%. On a US$ 30,000 dollar vehicle, this amounts to US$ 750 and effectively reduces (if not removes altogether) the significant shipping costs. A total of US$ 283mn worth of motor vehicles were shipped during the first 9 months of this year alone, and a rough estimation values the duty saving under AGOA to be in the region of US$ 7mn on this product category. Motor vehicle exports grew three-fold compared to the same period in 2005.

Besides built-up motor vehicles, other important categories include ‘parts and accessories not elsewhere included or specified’ followed by ‘wheels’ and ‘silencers and exhausts’.

Product segments where AGOA exports account for over half the value of total exports per respective category are ‘passenger vehicles’, ‘motor vehicle bodies’, ‘silencers and exhaust pipes’, ‘clutches’, ‘parts and accessories not elsewhere specified’, as well as ‘parts of trailers’.

[Eckart Naumann]

“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

Click here to view a sector profile of South Africa’s bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-Beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.