Economy

US Treasury’s No. 2 to visit South Africa next week

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo speaks at the Royal United Services Institute in London, Britain, October 27, 2023. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

By Daphne Psaledakis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo will visit South Africa next week, a Treasury spokesperson told Reuters, where he will seek to advance the economic relationship between the two countries even as ties have been marked by tensions.

The spokesperson said Adeyemo will discuss issues such as illicit finance, clean energy transition, investment in young entrepreneurs and leaders, work against wildlife trafficking and U.S. sanctions in his visit, first reported by Reuters.

He will meet with government counterparts, business leaders and students, among others, on the trip from March 11-15, the spokesperson said. The trip will include visits to Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg.

The trip comes as relations between Washington and Africa’s most industrialized economy have been marked by tensions over the past two years.

In the wake of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, U.S. and European officials have attempted to rally opposition to Moscow’s actions among African governments. Most African states, however, have shied away from taking sides.

Despite Pretoria’s declared neutrality, perceived close ties between Russia and South Africa, an important U.S. trading partner in Africa, have ruffled feathers in Washington.

The United States and its allies have imposed rafts of sanctions on Moscow since its invasion of Ukraine, including against its military industrial base, financial sector and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Adeyemo will discuss sanctions while on the trip, the spokesperson said, including recent changes to the Zimbabwe sanctions program.

Further straining relations, South Africa has been among the most outspoken critics of Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

In a case it has brought before the International Court of Justice, South Africa has accused Israel of state-led genocide in the Palestinian enclave, a charge Washington has denounced as baseless.

While in South Africa, Adeyemo will meet with government counterparts and on Thursday will attend an interagency meeting on countering illicit finance, the spokesperson said.

He will also attend a roundtable with government officials, the private sector and NGO participants on work against wildlife trafficking.

The U.S. Treasury Department and South Africa’s National Treasury last year agreed to form a task force to step up efforts to halt illegal trade in wildlife, announced by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a visit to the country.

The group, which is intended to boost information sharing by the countries’ financial intelligence units and to strengthen controls to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, held its first meeting in June.

Adeyemo will also visit with students, participants in a youth employment accelerator, entrepreneurs and business leaders as he seeks to focus on investment in the next generation of South Africans, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that engagement with South Africa’s National Treasury is important to Washington, with the U.S. standing as the country’s third-largest trading partner, and that Adeyemo’s visit is intended to deepen economic integration.

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