THE United States is South Africa's largest trading partner; two-way trade between the countries is almost $4 billion, split down the middle between exports and imports.
Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, who has made two exploratory trips to South Africa, appointed US lawyer/diplomat Millard Arnold as his minister counselor in South Africa. Mr. Arnold will assist US firms in their trade and investment initiatives there.
The Clinton administration has proposed a three-year, $600 million plan for South Africa. The proposal passed the House last month and is pending Senate approval. It stipulates that:
* The US Agency for International Development will provide $136 million in grants to South Africa this year and $33 million in loan guarantees;
* The Overseas Private Investment Corporation will spend $2 million to guarantee $35 million in private-sector development projects and will increase its investment insurance in South Africa to $50 million;
* The Commerce Department Trade and Development Agency will spend $1 million on feasibility studies to promote US exports;
* The US Export-Import Bank, which guaranteed $189 million in exports last year, will step up financing this year;
* US Trade Representative Mickey Kantor is slated to begin negotiations with South Africa for a bilateral investment treaty, while the US Treasury Department is scheduled to begin negotiations for a double taxation treaty.