FairPlay calls for anti-dumping duties on Irish chicken

South Africa has lifted the bird flu ban which has prevented imports of chicken from Ireland since 2021. This means Irish poultry producers are free to flood South Africa with dumped chicken imports, because anti-dumping duties which should have been in place have been suspended.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) has informed importers of the decision. Chicken meat produced on or after 21 December 2022 may now be imported.

“Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel should implement those anti-dumping duties immediately,” said FairPlay founder Francois Baird.

“Unfairly priced chicken imports mean local poultry producers will be at risk until August, when Minister Patel may or may not lift the suspension he imposed last year. They need him to act now,” Baird said.

“Bird flu restrictions on Ireland have been lifted, and Denmark might be next. Will other European Union countries be free to dump chicken here if bird flu abates in the approaching northern summer? Or will new bird flu outbreaks once again save us when the Minister won’t?”

In August last year, Patel approved anti-dumping duties on chicken from Brazil and four EU countries – Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Spain. While he agreed that dumped chicken was harming the local industry, he postponed implementation of the duties for a year because he feared higher tariffs would add to food price inflation.

The local poultry industry objected, saying the impact of the duties on retail chicken prices would be negligible, and that a struggling industry needed Patel to implement the duties he had approved. Their protests have been in vain.

Bird flu bans on all EU countries have meant that Brazil has so far been the only beneficiary of Patel’s decision, which FairPlay has called a licence to dump chicken here, harming local producers and putting local jobs at risk.

Because no Irish poultry producer objected successfully during the investigation into an application brought by the South African poultry industry, all Irish producers face anti-dumping duties of 158% on consignments of bone-in chicken such as leg quarters sent to South Africa.

These duties will only come into force in August, if Patel decides to end the suspension then. In the meantime, Irish producers can take advantage of bird flu bans on other EU producers, as they did in 2017.

Ireland will also have an advantage over the United States and Brazil, the two leading suppliers of bone-in chicken in 2022. Their imports are subject to a 62% general duty, which EU producers escape in terms of a trade agreement with South Africa. US imports would in addition have been subject to a R9.40/kg anti-dumping duty, but it forced on South Africa a substantial quota free from this duty from 2016 as a condition of renewing the AGOA trade agreement.

Bone-in chicken imports – leg quarters, thighs, drumsticks – compete with locally produced packs of individually quick frozen (IQF) chicken. The application for anti-dumping duties against Brazil and four EU countries, including Ireland, succeeded because they showed that these dumped imports were unfairly priced and harmed the local industry.