By: Tebogo Mokwena
The SA Poultry Association (SAPA), which is one of the signatories to the Poultry Sector Master Plan, will oppose the country’s membership in the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) agreement. This follows the quota of the amount of frozen bone-in chicken exported to South Africa from the United States, which instituted the agreement, being increased in April from 71,290 tonnes to 71,632 tonnes. The agreement provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access to the US market for over 1,800 products. In turn, domestic markets are opened for the US. The deal expires in 2025.
SAPA CEO Izaak Breitenbach told Vutivi News that the agreement was destroying South Africa’s chicken sector. The quota for chicken imports has increased over the years and the US has been accused by many in the sector of dumping cheap chicken, which in turn has been detrimental to small and medium-sized chicken farmers. Non-profit movement Fairplay told Vutivi News it would also oppose the AGOA agreement. This was because the US accounted for 49.6% of the country’s bone-in chicken imports.
“The duty-free quota was forced on South Africa by US negotiators during the finalisation in 2015 of the AGOA trade agreement between the two countries (and) was added in the last minute as a make-or-break condition, and the South African Poultry industry reluctantly bowed to this pressure because of the huge benefits the agreements contained for South Arica,” Fairplay noted. Breitenbach told Vutivi News that opposing the deal may hurt the country, but it was good for the poultry industry.
“The increase of the amount of chicken allowed to be dumped in South Africa by this agreement is hurting the industry and is a way to legalise it,” he said. “As we speak, the Presidency sent a delegation to maintain the AGOA agreement because the US wants to suspend it due to South Africa’s stance on the Ukraine-Russia war “The importation of leg quarters in the country which comes in at dumped prices land in the wholesaler sector and it competes directly with small farmers.” He also said that suspended anti-dumping duties, announced by Trade, Industry, and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel last year, had cost the industry dearly. Approached for comment, the department’s director for media relations, Bongani Lukhele, said they would not comment on the matter.