ITAC plays ketchup with SA potato industry

South Africa’s trade regulator, the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) is taking an awfully long time to finalise its investigation into an application for anti-dumping duties on frozen potato chips imported from the European Union.

Anti-dumping duties lapsed in July 2021. They had been in place for five years, and should have been renewed for a further five, but lapsed because of an ITAC error – the regulator had not completed in time its investigation into the renewal application by South Africa’s potato industry.

A year later, in July 2022, ITAC temporarily corrected the error by imposing provisional anti-dumping duties on potato chips imported from Belgium (23%), the Netherlands (104%) and Germany (181%). It said there was prima facie evidence that imports were harming the local industry. The duties were imposed for six months, by which time ITAC expected to have completed its investigation.

Those six months were up in January this year, and the tariffs lapsed again – once more because ITAC had not completed its investigation. This time they were not extended.

ITAC has told News24 that the investigation continues, without anti-dumping duties in place unless Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel decides to impose them.

“The Commission is ensuring that all due processes are followed to ensure the completion of the investigation, and thereafter the Minister’s decision will follow. Further developments will be communicated in due course,” said ITAC.

Potato chip importers are delighted at the resumption of EU imports. They claim, as importers usually do, that prices will drop.

The local potato industry is presumably less charmed about a further delay in its application for the renewal of those anti-dumping duties it had expected 18 months ago.