Call for higher cus­toms du­ties on frozen veg­eta­bles im­ported from EU and China

Farmer's Weekly (South Africa) - - Contents -

Frozen vegetable man­u­fac­turer, Na­ture’s Gar­den, has filed an ap­pli­ca­tion to in­crease the rate of cus­toms duty on “mix­tures of frozen veg­eta­bles” from 10% to 37%.

Ac­cord­ing to Na­ture’s Gar­den CEO, Bruce San­day, the ap­pli­ca­tion sub­mit­ted to the In­ter­na­tional Trade Ad­min­is­tra­tion Com­mis­sion (ITAC) and the De­part­ment of Trade and In­dus­try (DTI) re­cently, stated that low-cost im­ports from China and the EU were un­der­cut­ting prices of lo­cally grown and pro­duced frozen vegetable mix­tures. Th­ese in­cluded var­i­ous com­bi­na­tions of veg­eta­bles in­clud­ing peas, car­rots, corn, beans, broc­coli and cau­li­flower.

San­day said more su­per­mar­ket re­tail­ers were opt­ing to im­port the cheaper frozen veg­eta­bles for their house brands.

“In the past three years, the in­dus­try has seen an in­crease of about 21% in the vol­ume of frozen mix­tures of veg­eta­bles that are im­ported from the EU [46% in­crease for the pe­riod] and China [12% for the pe­riod].

‘ low- cost im­ports are un­der­cut­ting lo­cal prod­ucts’

“The EU is able to pro­duce large amounts of good-qual­ity frozen veg­eta­bles be­cause they have economies of scale and sup­port from govern­ment sub­si­dies. China has rel­a­tively cheaper crops, but lower qual­ity,” he said.

If this trend con­tin­ued, there would be lim­ited scope for the lo­cal in­dus­try, which would neg­a­tively af­fect farm­ing and em­ploy­ment.

“Al­ready an es­ti­mated 550ha [amount­ing to about R80 mil­lion to R100 mil­lion losses for lo­cal farm­ers] of ir­ri­gated crops are not planted in South Africa due to prod­ucts be­ing im­ported.”

The to­tal mar­ket at risk to im­ports is es­ti­mated to be 2 500ha of ir­ri­gated land, or R400 mil­lion in losses to lo­cal farm­ers.

San­day said the com­pany would like the tar­iff to be amended, as a nor­mal in­crease in du­ties would not im­pact prod­ucts im­ported from the EU. This is be­cause the eco­nomic part­ner­ship agree­ment that is in place pre­vents in­creases in du­ties on prod­ucts from the EU. “We re­quested that a bi­lat­eral safe­guard duty [be im­posed],” he said. – Siyanda Sishuba

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