In a detailed response to an article in Biznews by writer Ivo Vegter, Baird corrected Vegter’s facts and assumptions. He told Vegter and Biznews readers that the duties “are not general tariffs, they are not astronomical, and they will not send food prices soaring”.
Baird explained each point, emphasising that anti-dumping duties were not about food prices but about an industry in distress, because of rising input costs and chicken dumping.
“No industry can compete against dumping, which harms local industries and threatens local jobs. Anti-dumping duties combat unfair and predatory pricing and restore fair trade within WTO rules.”
Baird also criticised the assumption that duties would significantly raise import prices and food prices. He explained that low rates of between 2% and 7% would apply to most imports, and that the impact on retail prices could average 2.5%, but in reality would be a lot lower.
Where Vegter was right was that chicken prices would rise – because of the impact of load shedding and hight input prices.
“Chicken producers have been absorbing these costs, subsidising consumers by selling chicken at a loss,” Baird said.
“This is not sustainable, so chicken will get more expensive. Mostly because of high input costs which are adding rands to the price of a chicken, and least of all because of anti-dumping duties, which might add a few cents.”
Chicken importers “should stick to the facts”
Baird gave a similar message to the Sunday Times, another publication that gave its readers misleading information about the anti-dumping duties.
In a letter to the newspaper, he explained the facts about the duties as he took issue with the interpretation of the impact on import and retail prices projected by chicken importer Georg Southey.
“And to link anti-dumping duties to food security via the price rise fallacy is disingenuous. This is another of the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters’ false premises.
“Instead of spreading scare stories about huge price rises, Southey should stick to the facts,” Baird wrote.