In an unattributed press release on its website, the EU office here claims that there is no EU dumping of chicken in South Africa.
This statement is false and misleading. It is based on the fact that all of the main chicken producing countries in the EU cannot export at the moment because of outbreaks of avian influenza, or bird flu, in their poultry. Therefore, the EU argues, there is no dumping “as we speak”.
The bird flu ban is temporary, and dumping will resume when the ban is lifted.
All EU countries that export chicken to South Africa are dumping their unwanted surplus of dark chicken meat here. In every EU country, it costs more to produce a chicken than it does in South Africa. The only way they can market that expensive meat to South Africa is to sell it below their cost of production, which is dumping.
Three EU countries – Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – have been found guilty of dumping and have not challenged that conviction. The SA Poultry Association believes the duties applied to the three convicted dumpers are too low to deal with the unfairness of their dumping.
The only reason that not all EU countries that export to us have been found guilty of dumping is the sometimes arcane rules of the World Trade Organisation, under which trade is regulated. We will in due course launch actions against all those EU countries who fall within the WTO thresholds, all of whom are dumpers of dark meat.
In addition to pretending that it is not dumping chicken in South Africa, the EU also says that the amounts of chicken South Africa imports are not enough to do the harm and cause the job losses that the local chicken industry is claiming. Yet in the EU there is resistance to import levels that are far lower than those devastating the South African industry.
EU chicken producers are jumping up and down in horror because the EU imports approximately 7% of its poultry products. Their poultry producers claim that this causes them harm, saying “it is essential to guarantee a fair competition between EU and third countries.”
They want imports limited because “further market access or lower import levies granted to countries that do not meet our standards will continue to weaken the competitive position of the EU poultry meat industry and will put at risk a sector employing more than 300, 000 EU citizens.”
South Africa currently imports 26% of the poultry products that are consumed locally. So how could 26% not be problematic to the local industry when 7% is problematic to the Europeans?
Finally, the EU compares the chicken industry to the citrus industry, a comparison which is quite egregious. South Africa’s citrus industry exports to the EU in the normal course of trade, competing without dumping against EU and other foreign producers. There are no favours.
In fact the local citrus industry constantly has the sword of Damocles raised over its head as the EU makes false accusations about the impact of citrus black spot, a disease that marks the skin of the citrus, has no effect on the flesh that people eat and, according to international scientific opinion, including scientists from the EU, cannot be a disease threat to EU citrus producers.
For our relationship with the EU to improve would require that they become truthful, a first step in establishing a relationship based on trust and decency, not on exploitation. Our door is open.