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FairPlay Movement remains committed to fighting predatory trade after four years

In October 2020, the FairPlay movement celebrated four years of fighting against predatory trade practices such as dumping, and fighting for the jobs and livelihoods of the workers and communities impacted by dumping. We are not done yet, but we see progress.

In those four years FairPlay has grown from a small organisation to an influential and international not-for-profit NGO that has mounted campaigns on a number of issues in industries affected by trade dumping and unfair trade practices. In addition to a consistent and concerted focus on the damage done by dumping, we have highlighted issues such as food safety, food security and the potential for sugar as an energy source.

FairPlay has become a credible voice in South Africa, Africa and increasingly, internationally. From cement to potatoes, more industry sectors are also talking to FairPlay about the need to stop predatory trade. The state of predatory trade will be a challenge for the next WTO Secretary General. FairPlay will aggressively continue to press the case against predatory trade across the world and industry sectors.

For four years we have told South Africa and the world that “Dumping kills South African jobs”. That message has changed the debate about chicken imports, particularly as FairPlay has broadened the discussion to expose the predatory nature of unfair trade. At FairPlay’s Social Support Summit in 2017, our patron Justice Richard Goldstone said that the government should act to prevent predatory dumping, which he defined as dumped imports designed to kill the local industry.

We have built alliances locally and internationally, including with other countries such as Ghana and Cameroon where local industries have been devastated by EU trade dumping.

These issues can only be resolved by joint action of all involved in an industry sector. That is why we have advocated task forces and master plans to involve government, unions and industries in seeking solutions to unfair trade practices that pose existential threats. A master plan for South Africa’s poultry sector is already yielding results, and the sugar industry is among others where master plans are being formulated.

FairPlay exposed the fallacies behind accusations of chicken importers that imports are necessary because the local industry is inefficient and cannot supply the market. In fact, it is dumped imports that have held back a highly efficient industry, and the master plan aims to rectify that by limiting imports and expanding local production. Importers, perhaps to their regret, signed the master plan and should be held to account for their responsibility in achieving its objectives.

FairPlay, supported by its respected Expert Panel, is active on both traditional media and social media platforms. Hundreds of articles have focused on the damage done by trade dumping and the need for food safety and other reforms, while our social media team is active on these issues across multiple platforms.

FairPlay’s objectives for the next year include:

– Pushing for a more effective clamp down on unfair trade practices, including dumping, under-declaration of imports and round-tripping which can result in tax avoidance.

– A renewed focus on combating the effects of dumping on the food chain, through value chain traceability and a national food safety agency, and importantly, measures to increase food security to end child stunting. For instance on food safety, while some progress has been made on the labelling of imported products, we believe consumers have the right to require imports to be subject to the same labelling and traceability requirements that apply to local chicken.

– Advocacy for measures requiring government departments and state owned entities to buy local chicken for their catering. This would support the “buy local” campaign in the government’s economic recovery plan.
Support for the rapid implementation of the poultry sector master plan, following delays due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The plan calls for the containment of imports and industry expansion which could create 5 000 jobs over the next three years. Given the unemployment crisis in South Africa, this is urgent.

– Support for the renewal of anti-dumping duties against three European Union countries – Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – and the application of new anti-dumping duties against Brazil and four other EU countries where the local industry has found evidence of trade dumping.

– Advocacy for food security measures to include the removal of VAT on sales of local chicken products to promote access to protein, a campaign that was started in 2018.

– A continued focus on the threat that dumping and predatory trade poses to numerous industries in South Africa, including poultry, sugar, steel, cement and dairy. Job losses in these industries can be stemmed, and new jobs created, through the localisation promoted by the government economic recovery plan.

– Critically, we will be embarking on outreach to promote an initiative for taking hands in the interests of an #SAComeback campaign, to help people survive the ravages of the Covid-19 impact, by ensuring every legitimate business flourishes for the sake of jobs, and extending food and health support everywhere it is needed, while levelling the trade playing field.

After four years, the FairPlay Movement is more committed than ever to stand on the side of the people.

By Francois Baird, Founder of the FairPlay Movement

10 November 2020