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Imports have a place, but predatory trade does not

Are chicken imports necessarily bad? FairPlay has said repeatedly that it supports imports that come in at fair prices, presenting fair competition to the local poultry industry.

South African producers are among the most efficient in the world – slightly behind the US and Brazil, which produce all of their own feed, but ahead of nearly all EU countries.

The damage over the past two decades has been dumped chicken – predatory imports sold below cost to gain market share at the expense of local producers and local jobs. That’s in contravention of World Trade Organisation rules, and the local industry says it has evidence it is still going on. Hence its application for anti-dumping duties against Brazil and four EU countries, and for a renewal of those duties against a further three EU countries. 

The issue will come to the fore again if bird flu outbreaks in South Africa have a significant effect on local production, and additional imports are necessary to supply the market. That didn’t come about in the 2017 outbreak, and it hasn’t happened so far this time either.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. While the imports debate would be interesting, behind it would be a ravaged industry, deserted farms and production houses and possibly hundreds of jobs at risk.

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