SA considers EU poultry-import safeguards
South Africa will investigate new safeguards against chicken imports from Europe in its first attempt to use an escape clause in a free trade deal with the European Union (EU) called the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement.
The International Trade Administration Commission announced the investigation on Friday after local poultry producers asked for a 37% tariff to be reintroduced.
The trade agreement led to tariffs getting cut to 0% in 2010, leading to a surge in chicken imports from nothing to more than 150 000 tons a year.
That is more than double the quota of US chicken being allowed in this year after tortuous negotiations and the threat of losing access to trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. South Africa already slapped anti-dumping duties on exporters from Germany, the UK and the Netherlands in 2014.
All this achieved was to shift the imports to Spain and Belgium, said Kevin Lovell, CEO of the SA Poultry Association.
After these duties, imports still rose last year. To put tariffs on European chicken, South Africa will have to show that there has been a “serious disruption” due to the imports – a vague condition that the trade agreement does not fully define.