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Brazil should make its case to SA’s trade regulator

Statement by Francois Baird, founder of FairPlay. 6 April 2022.

There’s an easy answer to Brazilian claims that they do not dump chicken in South Africa – show the evidence to South Africa’s trade regulator.

The regulator, the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC), is investigating an application from the South African poultry industry for anti-dumping duties against Brazil and four European Union countries – Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Spain.

This is a formal investigation, with evidence submitted in support of the application being referred to poultry producers in the countries concerned, and to their governments. They have ample opportunity to contest the claims and submit evidence to counter them.

The Brazilian Association of Animal Protein producers (ABPA) will know this – according to ITAC they were approached and made a submission before ITAC’s provisional determination last December resulted in SARS imposing provisional anti-dumping duties on the five countries. The duties will remain in effect until June, when a final ITAC determination is expected.

It is therefore puzzling that the Brazilian producers should say they “hope” to be given the opportunity to disprove the dumping allegations against them.

ITAC said in December that, after considering all interested parties’ submissions and comments, (the) “Commission found that the subject product is exported at dumped prices by exporters/manufacturers from Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Spain”.

The “subject product” is frozen bone-in chicken portions, mainly leg quarters but also thighs, drumsticks and wings.
Nevertheless, despite the unambiguous (but provisional) evidentiary finding of dumping, the Brazilian producer association says it “is distressed by this perception and would like to set the record straight”. It’s not a perception, and the Brazilian producers should submit any additional evidence to ITAC ahead of its final determination, if they haven’t done so already.

The Brazilians also claim that imports are necessary because “South Africa cannot supply enough chicken to meet demand”. The fact is that local production has been constrained by a flood of dumped chicken imports over two decades. The poultry master plan aims to fix this by curbing unfair and illegal imports, expanding local capacity and creating local jobs.

Another puzzling aspect of the Brazilian statement is the claim that the world’s top chicken producer has exported “consistent high quality produce”.

They seem to have forgotten Brazil’s repeated food safety scandals. To name but three – the 2017 “Weak Flesh” scandal resulted in criminal charges for exporters accused of evading food safety checks and bribing officials.

In 2019 The Guardian newspaper in London reported that Brazil had exported thousands of tonnes of chicken contaminated by the food poisoning bug salmonella.

And in 2020 China temporarily blocked meat imports from Brazil because of fears of Covid-19 contamination.

If the Brazilians want to clear their name, they have a lot of work to do.

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