WASHINGTON, March 2, 2016 – U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman joined senators from the two top poultry producing states and the president of the National Chicken Council Wednesday to announce that after 15-years of unwarranted trade barriers, U.S. poultry has arrived in South Africa.
The group estimated U.S. poultry exports – which account for between 15 and 20 percent of the poultry produced in the U.S. – could reach $100 million annually as a result of South Africa’s new trade policy.
“Today’s announcement is really the result of a unified effort,” said Froman on a call with reporters. “Today is a great day for American farmers. They’d been shut out for far too long.”
Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Chris Coons, D-Del., co-chairs of the Senate Chicken Caucus and advocates for ending South African trade barriers to U.S. poultry, praised each other, Froman and President Barack Obama for their collaborative work over the last year.
“It was an honor to be Johnny’s wingman on this,” Coons said of Isakson, who first suggested threatening South Africa’s duty-free export status under the African Growth and Opportunity Act as a way to break down trade barriers during negotiations on last year’s AGOA reauthorization bill.
“While we’re giving out praise, we have to thank President Obama too,” Isakson added. The president issued a suspension order to South Africa late last year, threating to revoke AGOA benefits if the country failed to open its markets to U.S. poultry, pork and beef.
Froman said the president’s decision on the suspension order would be “forthcoming,” but he was comfortable that South Africa had come through on its end of the deal.
The first shipments of U.S. poultry were received in South Africa over the weekend. South Africa has also agreed to remove barriers to exports of U.S. pork and beef. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative estimates pork exports to South Africa could reach $40 million a year and beef, $17 million.
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