Security Industry Association Commends U.S. Senate for AGOA with Enhanced Oversight Provision

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The security industry calls upon the House of Representatives to act quickly on companion legislation.

Jake Parker

Jake Parker

The inclusion of this enhanced oversight provision in the Senate passed bill will lead to a more reciprocal and balanced trade relationship with beneficiary countries, most notably South Africa.

The Security Industry Association (SIA) commends the U.S. Senate for approving the bipartisan measure reauthorizing the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), S. 1267, on May 14. In addition to extending the Act, which expires Sept. 30, the bill includes a new provision establishing an out-of-cycle review mechanism to ensure compliance with fair trade practices required of Sub-Saharan countries receiving export preferences under AGOA.

Over the past year, SIA urged the committees drafting the AGOA extension to address the Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Act (PSIRA) under consideration by the South African Government. PSIRA contains a provision, inserted at the last minute during parliamentary consideration, which requires foreign-owned security companies, including technology firms, to sell at least 51 percent of their South African businesses to South Africans, in what is often referred to as a “forced localization” measure. A surprise to many observers, the provision was included despite the fact that such companies are already required to exclusively employ South African citizens within the country.

The review mechanism in the Senate passed bill allows firms to petition the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to investigate actions they believe may violate AGOA eligibility criteria. If found in violation, the USTR would be authorized to limit benefits or suspend the country from AGOA participation. Additionally, in an unprecedented move, the bill singles out a country for immediate review, requiring South Africa to undergo a six-month review beginning within 30 days of enactment.

“The inclusion of this enhanced oversight provision in the Senate passed bill will lead to a more reciprocal and balanced trade relationship with beneficiary countries, most notably South Africa, the largest beneficiary of AGOA preferences by far,” said Jake Parker, SIA director of government relations.

It is important to note that the out-of-cycle review mechanism is not an additional eligibility requirement, but rather a provision to ensure compliance with AGOA, Parker said. Under the existing agreement, such a review could only occur at the end of AGOA’s five-year cycle, making it difficult to hold beneficiaries accountable to their commitments.

The PSIRA Act is awaiting the South African president’s signature to pass it into law. The South African industry organizations, business, trade and law exports that oppose the foreign ownership limitation clause have called for South African President Jacob Zuma to send the PSIRA Act back to Parliament for the removal of the offending section on expropriation.

“If the South African Parliament does not remove the discriminatory clause from the PSIRA Act, it is highly likely such an issue would be raised as a matter of concern during the South Africa review required under the AGOA reauthorization moving through Congress,” Parker said.

SIA calls on the House of Representatives to expeditiously act on AGOA reauthorization.

Jake Parker is available to comment on this issue. Reporters should contact Mickey McCarter, SIA manager of communications, at 301-804-4704 or mmccarter(at)securityindustry(dot)org to arrange an interview.

About the Security Industry Association

The Security Industry Association (SIA) (http://www.securityindustry.org) is the leading trade association for electronic and physical security solution providers, with nearly 600 innovative member companies representing more than 350,000 security leaders and experts who shape the future of the security industry. SIA protects and advances its members' interests by advocating pro-industry policies and legislation at the federal and state levels; creating open industry standards that enable integration; advancing industry professionalism through education and training; opening global market opportunities; and collaboration with other like-minded organizations. As a proud sponsor of ISC Events expos and conferences, and owner of the Securing New Ground® conference, SIA ensures its members have access to top-level buyers and influencers, as well as unparalleled learning and network opportunities.

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Mickey McCarter