Statement by François Baird, founder of the FairPlay movement.
The South African chicken industry’s new application for anti-dumping duties against Brazil and four European Union countries is overdue, and FairPlay hopes a decision on an effective tariff will be reached with urgency.
South African Jobs are at stake, as FairPlay has pointed out for the past four years. Dumped and predatory chicken imports, mainly from Brazil and EU countries, have constricted the local industry resulting in thousands of workers losing their jobs. Thousands more jobs have not been created because predatory imports have held back the expansion that would have met increasing local demand for chicken.
Instead that higher demand was met by dumped imports, unfairly increasing the market share of importers exactly as they had planned. These predatory imports are designed to displace local production and local jobs with the ultimate objective of gaining control of the whole market as has been done in other countries and at great cost. Foreign producer countries mean to keep on doing this. If they succeed, a strategic local industry supporting more than 100 000 jobs and the families they support in vulnerable communities throughout the country will be at risk. Anti-dumping duties will help to mitigate that risk.
FairPlay has called repeatedly for anti-dumping duties to halt this unfair trade practice. We are delighted that this application has been launched against Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Spain, and we hope that it succeeds. We also hope that ways can be found to complete this investigation quicker than the year to 18 months that previous applications have taken.
Three other EU countries are already subject to anti-dumping duties, which the local industry is seeking to have renewed. The fact that there is evidence of dumping by seven EU nations is ironic, given that the EU notes in a 2020 “trade defence report” how important it is to have fair trade without dumping or subsidies.
“A strong and effective trade defence is of key importance to protect our companies and jobs against unfair trade practices and to ensure diversity of supply. Making sure our companies operate in fair market conditions will be even more crucial in the times of post-corona crisis recovery,” the EU states.
That is precisely what South Africa is doing – protecting companies and jobs against unfair trade practices. While the EU’s trade defence measures have kept chicken imports to 7% or less of their market, in South Africa imports have gobbled up between 20% and 30% of local chicken sales.
The Poultry Sector Master Plan notes that the local industry has stagnated as imports have risen by 400% over the past 20 years, and by 73% over the past five years.
As workers have lost their jobs, communities in poor rural areas have been thrown into even deeper distress. Dumped chicken imports have helped to spread misery in a country with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, and where the Covid-19 crisis has just thrown another two million people out of work.
The assault on South African’s chicken industry and its thousands of jobs has lasted for more than two decades. It is time to call a halt.
Download our new 2021 State of Play report on predatory trade in South Africa’s poultry industry.