JOHANNESBURG – South African poultry producers are considering granting concessions on the access of United States chickens into the local market in order to help secure the renewal of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).
US poultry producers have threatened to block the renewal of the act in the US Congress if SA does not allow some of their products to enter the domestic market.
SA applies anti-dumping duties on the import of US bone-in chicken portions and while these will remain in place in future, there was scope to allow a specified quantity of chicken leg quarters from the US to enter the country, chief executive officer of the South African Poultry Association Kevin Lovell said on Friday.
Agoa provides SA with duty-free access into the US and it is due to expire on September 30 next year.
US President Barack Obama and the US administration both support the extension of the act and South Africa’s continued inclusion in it, but the ultimate decision is for the US Congress to take.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies discussed the US poultry association’s concerns when he went to Washington DC in August and has assisted in getting the associations from the two countries to the negotiating table.
Lovell said the issue to be negotiated with the US poultry association was what quantities of US chicken could enter SA without the anti-dumping duties. “So far the talks are going well. We are trying to find compromises. I am fairly comfortable we will find a solution.”
Any decision would have to undergo administrative processes, which Lovell hoped would be concluded before the renewal of Agoa came before Congress.
“Any concessions we might make would be dependent on Agoa being renewed. If the renewal fails, then the concession will fall away.”
While the talks have been friendly, the issue is a delicate one for local producers who have been engaged in ongoing battles to protect their industry against cheap imports.
Democratic Alliance spokesman on trade and industry Geordin Hill-Lewis was encouraged by news of the talks which he said was a “positive movement in the right direction”.