Chicken Industry

Where are the promised poultry tariffs?

The delay means livelihoods in rural areas remain threatened. Our letter was first published in the Business Day on 9 March 2020. Read the original here .

While the government dithers on the announcement of new tariffs on imported Brazilian chicken, the need for more concerted action against EU exporters is growing because the livelihoods and jobs of thousands of South Africans are at stake.

Both Brazil and the EU are dumping unwanted surpluses of brown chicken meat and will take whatever price they can get. Both have shown in the past that they can drop their prices to counter new tariffs. Both are making a concerted effort to corner our market at the expense of local producers and local jobs.

The announcement of new tariffs against a number of countries, including Brazil but excluding the EU, has been inexplicably delayed. In November, tariffs were expected “soon”. On February 13, in his state of the nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised new tariffs “within two weeks”.

Unfortunately for SA workers, that hasn’t happened. The delay means local jobs and livelihoods in the most poverty-stricken rural areas remain threatened by huge volumes of chicken imports, while importers that profit handsomely from this situation keep smiling.

The threat is not only from Brazilian chicken. EU producers are returning to the SA market after nearly two years of absence due to bird-flu bans. And as EU imports ramp up, it is evident that the bloc continues to dump chicken onto our market at prices below those in their local markets.

FairPlay supports the renewal of anti-dumping duties against three EU countries — Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. These duties have been in force since 2015 and have been renewed regularly because of continued dumping.

Protection against unfair imports is the bedrock of the poultry sector master plan signed in 2019. Without that protection, the industry cannot recover, let alone grow and create jobs. Presidential promises must be kept.

Francois Baird. Founder, FairPlay