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Rising imports could jeopardise local agricultural economy, says Agri SA

Industry organisation Agri SA has called on government to be vigilant around produce trade. This article was first published in Engineering News.


Globally, the decline in demand for agricultural produce has resulted in stock surpluses and over-capacitated storage facilities, it says.


This has led to increased export volumes to low-value markets, which poses a potential threat to the South African agriculture sector, and also creates opportunities for illicit trade, it adds.


“Surges in the imports of frozen produce such as chicken and potatoes will place increased pressure on local farmers, negatively impacting on their livelihoods, and those of the people they employ. Dumping could endanger the growth outlook of one of the country’s most viable industries,” warns Agri SA executive director Omri van Zyl.


Simultaneously, Agri SA says the risk of importing under incorrect tariff lines enables illicit trade.


“This is compounded by the risk of dumping and should be guarded against. It is imperative that trade rules are enforced at points of entry to avoid unfair practice,” the organisation emphasised.


As the economy opens up, the pressure caused by the closure of quick service restaurants, and tourism industries will be alleviated to an extent; however, the chicken and frozen industry remains at risk. Under lockdown levels 5, 4 and 3, the demand for frozen chicken declined by 18%, 13% and 7% respectively, notes Agri SA.


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