WASHINGTON, June 5, 2015 – U.S. and South African trade officials have agreed on a framework to provide for renewed market access for U.S. bone-in chicken into the South African market, the two countries said today in a joint release.
U.S. poultry producers have been shut out of the market for the past 15 years by high punitive duties imposed by South Africa, which contended that the U.S. was dumping its chicken on the South African market at below the price of production. The U.S. said South Africa was only trying to protect its domestic producers.
The agreement was announced today following two days of meeting in Paris involving government and industry officials from both countries. The governments also agreed to take steps this month to resolve sanitary issues related to poultry, pork, and beef.
“While both sides recognize it may take some time for the South African government to complete its regulatory process, both sides are committed to expedite processes and resume shipments of U.S. chicken as quickly as possible,” the two nations said in the joint statement.
The agreement comes as the U.S. House of Representatives is about to debate a series of trade bills, including one that extends duty-free treatment for imports from South Africa and other developing nations and a more controversial measure that would provide the president with Trade Promotion Authority to pave the way for approval of new trade agreements. The administration has been working to win Democratic support for TPA by assuring lawmakers that it is enforcing existing trade rules. The House could vote on the bills as soon as next week.
Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Chris Coons, D-Del., have threatened to exclude South Africa from nations that would be extended duty-free treatment of imports unless the country got rid of the punitive tariffs on U.S. chicken. The two lawmaker represent major poultry producing states.
U.S. poultry exports accounted for about 5 percent of the South African market before the duties were imposed in 2000. James Sumner, president of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, said earlier this year that if U.S. producers had fair access to South Africa’s market, it could lead to about $120 million in sales.
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