Don’t use the rebates provisions, urges SA poultry industry

An angry South African poultry industry has urged the government not to approve any applications for tariff rebates on chicken imports.

The SA Poultry Association (SAPA) said there was no justification for implementing tariff rebates. Doing so would undo the progress made in terms of the poultry master plan to curb harmful, illegal and dumped chicken imports.

“Implementing tariff rebates simply works against the trade measures implemented under the Poultry Sector Master Plan – and against which the local industry made massive investments in production capacity.  They will only serve to place further investment at risk, place jobs at risk and threaten South Africa’s food security,” SAPA said in a statement.

There was no rational argument for a rebate on tariffs; there was no poultry meat shortage over the festive season and the supply chain was well stocked.

“We will be dismayed if Government even considers applications, never mind approves permits for poultry imports under the rebates.  This would move to sacrifice one of the few agricultural industries in South Africa that is globally competitive.”

SAPA noted that the South African poultry industry is a R60-billion strategic national asset – the second largest agricultural sector in the country, and the largest employer.  For every job created in the poultry industry, another job is created throughout the value chain, it said.

In addition to the measures the industry had taken to ensure chicken supply, including importing millions of hatching eggs, there were plans to vaccinate the national poultry breeding flock against avian influenza.

“That too will avert any possible shortages, and the rebates will merely become a non-event and hopefully not a tool for unscrupulous importers to abuse,” SAPA said.