David Wolpert, former CEO of the chicken importers group the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AMIE), has contradicted his former colleagues by calling for protection of the South African poultry industry.
AMIE has consistently opposed tariffs on the chicken import from which they profit. Wolpert urged the government to consider subsidies, remove value added tax (VAT) from chicken and, if necessary, impose higher import tariffs to support poultry farmers and enable consumers to afford chicken.
Wolpert, who recently moved to Australia, said in a letter to South Africa’s Daily Dispatch that the Australian poultry industry was in good health.
“The only chicken imports are ready-cooked chickens from New Zealand. Australia doesn’t have high tariffs on imports, and most are duty-free. GST is 10%, whereas VAT in SA is 15%.”
In South Africa, “a perfect storm is raging and consumers are suffering,” he wrote. While he had always opposed protectionism, producers were not competing on a level playing field.
“The SA government must urgently put the interests of the consumer first, by removing VAT for at least the cuts that feed poorer segments of the population.
“Local producers should also receive some form of subsidy to offset the huge costs incurred through load-shedding, like ruined power and water supply systems. Chicken prices could then be reduced to assist the millions of poor and hungry consumers.
“If this means import tariffs must be retained, or even increased, then that’s what needs to happen,” Wolpert said.
Chicken importers will not be pleased.