Imports vs dumping: What’s the difference?

The distinction between fair trade and dumping is an important one. Dumping is not fair trade; it is a predatory trade practice aimed at capturing a market through unfairly priced imports. 

Dumping is against World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, and the WTO authorises anti-dumping duties to counter the unfair advantage of dumped import prices. Fair trade is desirable and enhances competition, while dumping harms local industries and costs jobs.

Chicken importers don’t see it this way. They refer only to “imports”, whether dumped or not, and their latest report reportedly refers to anti-dumping duties as “prohibitive tariffs”.

This is not true. Anti-dumping duties are a specific counter to a specific, measured offence. The anti-dumping duties approved against Brazil and four EU countries were determined by an official investigation by South Africa’s trade regulator, the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac). They are different for each country and for producers within that country. They must not be confused with a general tariff.

The poultry industry’s statement emphasises this difference.

“The industry is not opposed to imports – we welcome fair trade and healthy competition – unfortunately, dumping is a predatory trade practice with which no market can compete,” it said.

Dumping “has led to the destruction of several poultry industries across Africa (Ghana, Cameroon), while South Africa’s was in a state of contraction before dumping was slowed down thanks to defensive trade measures”.

SAPA’s Izaak Breitenbach summed it up last week: “We don’t need protection from imports. We need protection against dumping”.