David Wolpert builds a logical argument on a false premise (Local poultry sector flying, October 13). He speaks for chicken importers and doesn’t want any limits put on that business. He argues that the local chicken industry is roaring ahead and therefore doesn’t need any protection.
The false premise is that the industry is prosperous, and this will last forever. Certainly, some companies are reporting better results off a low base, because lower maize prices have cut feed costs, avian flu bans on EU countries have shown how the industry can recover when dumping diminishes, and because they are restructuring to counter the effect of huge volumes of dumped chicken imports.
This doesn’t mean the industry is healthy or trouble-free. Bird flu outbreaks are forcing large-scale but hopefully temporary closures and layoffs. The continuing and longer term threat of dumping is an existential crisis for the industry — unless dumping is stopped, it could put them out of business, as Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal have found.
Wolpert notes that imports from most EU countries are down because of bird flu restrictions. This doesn’t mean dumping has stopped — other countries have simply raised their export volumes.
That is why the South African chicken industry has been calling for urgent government action to stop dumping. Local producers want to expand, create jobs and export. Bird flu and dumping are major obstacles to these plans. While the industry can recover from bird flu, it would not recover from dumping.
Welcome improvements in company performance do not lessen the threat posed by dumping, nor do they lessen the need for the government to act forcefully to preserve jobs and enable future job creation.
First published in Business Day
19 OCTOBER 2017 – 05:30