CHICKEN

The Poultry Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE -

N Io coun­try ever im­ported it­self to eco­nomic growth wasn’t in­vited to the fi­nan­cial deficit. MOAB (mother of all braais) held last week by United States am­bas­sador Pa­trick Gas­pard to cel­e­brate the re­turn of dumped US chick­en­leg quar­ters - a con­se­quence of which was re­newed African Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act (Agoa) trade con­ces­sion ben­e­fits for our agri­cul­tural ex­porters.

Now, why wasn’t I in­vited when Don­ald Mackay, whose glib slip across the truth in a re­cent Mail & Guardian opin­ion piece will linger on in many minds long af­ter the MOAB’S ashes have been dis­carded? Mackay (rep­re­sent­ing im­porters) and I (rep­re­sent­ing the South African poul­try in­dus­try) of­ten com­pete for the truth in sub­mis­sions to the In­ter­na­tional Trade Ad­min­is­tra­tion Com­mis­sion of South Africa.

No coun­try of any size has ever im­ported it­self to sus­tained eco­nomic growth. Trade is an ex­change; both coun­tries need prod­ucts to ex­change be­fore trade be­comes a de­vel­op­men­tal ve­hi­cle - or else it is sim­ply a fis­cal and

Space in the global econ­omy

Today, if you want a space in the com­pet­i­tive global econ­omy, you ei­ther make things or pro­vide ser­vices. Our na­tional trade pol­icy aims to en­cour­age lo­cal pro­duc­tion of a range of prod­ucts to sus­tain ex­ist­ing jobs and cre­ate new ones, and to help ef­fec­tively in­te­grate our econ­omy into an of­ten dis­torted global trad­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

We are all part of a global and in­ter­con­nected econ­omy. Just as we are grap­pling with the po­ten­tial loss of our steel in­dus­try, so is the United King­dom. In which coun­try would the loss of such an in­dus­try cause the most so­cial harm? The an­swer is quite clear: it would be us, be­cause our econ­omy is much less di­verse and so­phis­ti­cated than the UK’S and there­fore less able to ab­sorb shocks to the sys­tem. In both cases, the un­der­ly­ing prob­lem is the same: over­pro­duc­tion in China and the re­al­i­sa­tion that this over­hang will not dis­ap­pear any time soon.

Im­port – and be damned?

For all the prod­ucts Mackay lists, the ma­jor­ity, or near ma­jor­ity, of all pro­duc­tion is lo­cal. It makes more sense to con­sider the ef­fects of gov­ern­ment sup­port when the pic­ture is more nu­anced. Why, for ex­am­ple, is there no tar­iff on rice im­ports but there is one on wheat? Sim­ply be­cause we have never suc­cess­fully pro­duced rice, but we used to pro­duce most of the wheat needed in our coun­try (although now we pro­duce about half of our re­quire­ments).

So what caused the change? A pos­i­tive ex­pla­na­tion is that South Africans are wealth­ier now than they were pre­democ­racy, so more of us are mov­ing away from maize as our only source of car­bo­hy­drates.

Another ex­pla­na­tion is less pos­i­tive, namely that our devel­op­ment of wheat cul­ti­vars has slowed post democ­racy, weather pat­terns have changed and the bru­tal eco­nom­ics of→

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