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Opposition to master plans misplaced

Not everyone supports master plans. The local media regularly feature commentary criticising the master plans in general, and Minister Patel in particular.

Much of this commentary incorrectly dismisses the master plan approach as government overreach. What these commentators fail to acknowledge, however, is that master plans are nothing more than a tool for consultative policymaking – the same businesses who sign up to these plans, are the ones who make the plans, set the targets, and now have an open channel to government to remove obstacles to growth. It’s an inclusive compact where the interests of business, labour and government meet.

In the poultry sector, there is also a small import-supporting lobby that seems determined to undermine the credibility of the industry’s application for anti-dumping duties against Brazil and four EU countries. They ignore the facts citied in the application – the volumes of dumped chicken imports and the damage to the local industry and local jobs. Instead they pretend there is no threat.

Increased tariffs would affect the profits of chicken importers. The local importers’ association was initially vocal in opposing new tariffs, but faces a conflict because importers signed the master plan – which they co-developed – and are therefore committed to its objectives, which include limiting imports to promote local industry growth. Suddenly there are letters to financial publications denigrating the application – one even called it “a total farce”.

Sticks and stones are unlikely to have any impact on the local regulator, ITAC, which will investigate the application and recommend remedies. It sticks to the facts and has already said the local industry has made a prima facie case of dumping against the five countries. 

What really matters will be whether ITAC’s investigating confirms its early view, and if so what new tariffs it recommends to stop chicken dumping.