WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2015 - Two U.S. senators from major poultry-producing states have written to South African President Jacob Zuma urging him to live up to an agreement his government made in June while in Paris to accept 65,000 metric tons of U.S. poultry exports annually free of any anti-dumping duties.
In the letter, Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Chris Coons, D-Del., pointedly reminded Zuma that Congress is currently conducting a special review of South Africa’s eligibility to benefit from the recently extended African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which allows African countries to export products duty-free to the U.S.
The concern among the lawmakers is that South Africa may be using an avian-flu related ban on U.S. poultry as an excuse to continue to protect its domestic poultry industry, despite the Paris agreement. The South African ban is on poultry from anywhere in the U.S., not just from the regions affected by avian influenza, which is the recommendation of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
Isakson and Coons told Zuma it was their understanding that despite the passage of three months since the Paris agreement, the South African government had not yet taken legal steps to start importing the chicken they agreed to.
“We are also disappointed to learn that there has been no progress on South Africa’s complete ban on U.S. poultry due to avian influenza,” Isakson and Coons said in their letter. “It is important that the South African government follow (OIE) guidelines and implement a policy of regionalization for highly pathogenic avian influenza, along with the final adoption of language for export certificates.”
Officials from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service went to Pretoria recently to discuss how to resolve trade barriers with South Africa, not just on poultry, but also on pork and beef. U.S. officials said they made “some progress” without providing specifics.
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