Chicken importers get facts wrong

FairPlay founder Francois Baird has taken issue with chicken importing organisation the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters over the “facts” it is using to argue against import tariffs and anti-dumping duties.

In a letter to Business Day, Baird said AMIE CEO Paul Matthew had wrongly stated in an article that a shortage of chicken for fast food outlets last December was the result of higher import tariffs.

Matthew must have misunderstood the many news reports in which the poultry industry showed that tariffs had nothing to do with that temporary shortage, Baird wrote.

“The problem was load-shedding. Power cuts disrupted the slaughter schedule. Delays meant the chickens grew bigger than the maximum weight specified by fast food outlets.”

While Matthew talked of food security, his real target was the antidumping duties due to be imposed in August on chicken imports from Brazil and four EU countries. These were suspended for a year last August, and Matthew has urged the government to delay further rather than bring them into force.

“That is what is behind his attack on what he likes to call ‘short-term protectionist measures’. Perhaps he misunderstood the World Trade Organisation rules that make antidumping duties a specific remedy for the harm done by trade dumping. Nothing to do with protectionism.

“Finally, Matthew blames the poultry industry for the delay in getting chicken exports going to the EU. Maybe he failed to understand many reports that the main reason for the delay is the acute shortage of state veterinarians needed for health certification of exports. And now the EU has delayed the process further by changing its rules,” Baird said.