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Chips are down for potato producers

South African potato producers are in trouble, because of what appears to have been a mix-up between them and the country’s independent tariff regulator, the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC).

For reportedly the first time in its history, ITAC failed to complete a tariff investigation on time. The result was that anti-dumping duties against unfairly priced potato chip imports from Belgium and the Netherlands fell away in July, instead of being renewed. These potato slices are used for making French fries, or “frites”.

The producers had submitted a renewal application, but ITAC failed to complete their investigation in the required 18 months, so the application lapsed and local producers are now threatened by European imports.

Jobs are at stake and will probably be lost because even if a repeat application is lodged, it will take time. FairPlay has urged ITAC to assure other vulnerable industries – poultry, steel, sugar and textiles – that this will not happen again.

ITAC is currently investigating an application by the poultry industry for the renewal of anti-dumping duties against Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom