PRETORIA, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- South Africa is largely taking a wait and see approach towards the upcoming U.S.-Africa summit, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana- Mashabane said on Monday.
"This is their own initiative, they started it and we have not looked down upon the invitation," Nkoana-Mashabane told the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
"We came, we'll air our views in the most constructive manner so that which is a good initiative...," she said.
The SA chief diplomat suggested that the United States has lagged in its engagement with Africa as a collective, focusing rather on individual relationships.
Nkoana-Mashabane is in Washington, accompanying President Jacob Zuma for the U.S.-Africa Leaders' Summit, scheduled for August 4-6.
The summit will discuss, among others, the renewal of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The summit has been described as brand new, but the nature of engagement is uncertain and the outcomes as yet undefined.
Before the summit kicks off, the South African government has said it wants to see the speedy re-authorisation of the AGOA, which it said is a central plank in both South Africa and Africa's industrialisation strategies.
"We'd be much happier if we hear engagement that positively moves towards the renewal of AGOA, that African heads of state get listened to on how we resolve African challenges of peace and security supported by friendly nations," Nkoana-Mashabane said.
During his visit to Africa last year, U.S. President Barack Obama promised to extend the AGOA which he said represents good business for both Africa and America.
The AGOA is a preferential market access system given to specific countries in Africa and the Caribbean by the United States. The act allows Southern African countries to ship key products to the U.S duty free. The AGOA is set to expire in 2015, and most African countries are keen to see it renewed for a period of 10-15 years.
AGOA's renewal is expected to provide Africa with the necessary stability, predictability and market access that is so crucial for African industries and small businesses to become competitive and sustainable.
But what will be of some concern to South Africa is that questions have been raised about the country's middle income status and how that will impact its eligibility for AGOA.
Nkoana-Mashabane said before his departure for Washington that South Africa's graduation from AGOA would serve to undermine not only the country's domestic efforts at re-basing its economy to become a manufacturing and export hub in the sub-region, but also impede Africa's broader regional integration strategies aimed at stimulating inter-Africa trade.
"Africa is a Continent on the march towards realising economic development and prosperity for its citizens. The U.S. can help fast-track this process by supporting Africa's development plans and strategies which are coordinated through the African Union and its goals as outlined in our Agenda 2063 vision," the minister said.