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International trade agreements in the spotlight

Chicken dumping took centre stage during a panel discussion on fair trade at the recent Farmer’s Weekly Agribusiness Africa Conference in Johannesburg. Francois Baird, founder of non-profit trade movement FairPlay, accused the EU of chicken dumping and costing the local poultry industry thousands of jobs as a result of unfair trade practices (UTPs). He added that similar UTPs had resulted in the loss of about 120000 jobs in Cameroon, as well as the completed struction of the poultry sector in Ghana.

Baird said that these UTPs were a “big problem for” most of Africa and that the continent, including South Africa, had to toughen its negotiation position if it were to benefit from trade agreements with large trade blocs such as the EU.

Dessy Choumelova, counsellor for agriculture, food, safety and climate change for the EU delegation to South Africa responded to Baird’s statements, saying said that FairPlay “media’s campaign [was] not based on facts.

She had earlier spoken about fair trade between the EU and South Africa as stipulated in the SADC-EU economic partnership agreement (EPA).

According to Choumelova, the South African poultry industry was not doing enough tobe competitive, and explained that imports from the EU to South Africa had declined 70% from 2016 to 2017, due to the outbreak of avian influenza in poultry-producing countries in the EU. “This {shortfall} was taken up by other countries, not [by the}local market,” she said.

The SADC-EU EPA, which was launched in February, was aimed at improving trade between the Southern African Development Community (GADC and ) theEU, and protecting smallholder farmers from UTPs. She added that it was “too early to say what effect the agreement [would] have [on trade in SADC)”.

– JanineRyan

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