Avian influenza (HPAI, or bird flu) swept through Europe over the past year, and the resulting South African import bans afforded local poultry producers some protection against dumped chicken imports from the EU.
The bird flu outbreak has continued into the northern summer. It has been so widespread that, for some months now, Spain has been the only EU country licensed to export poultry to South Africa. That may be about to change.
In its latest imports report, the SA Poultry Association (SAPA) notes that a string of European countries have declared their industries HPAI-free. That should be a precursor to re-opening poultry exports to this country – but for a slight complication.
The UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Hungary, France and Belgium have all declared their poultry industries HPAI-free recently, joining Ireland and Spain. Germany and Poland have not yet made these declarations.
The complication is that SAPA lists EU countries where there have been recent bird flu outbreaks – and these include a number of countries that have declared themselves free of the disease. It says cases of HPAI have been reported from Poland, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands in June, July and August 2021.
South African trade authorities will have to make sense of these conflicting reports. While there is any doubt that EU poultry is disease-free, the trade bans should remain firmly in place.