In an unattributed press release on the Delegation of the European Union to South Africa’s website, it is claimed that there is no European Union (EU) chicken dumping in South Africa. (Read the press release here.)

According to the South African Poultry Association (SAPA), this statement is false and misleading. It is based on the fact that all the main chicken-producing countries in the EU cannot export at the moment because of outbreaks of avian influenza, or bird flu, in their poultry. Therefore, the EU argues, there is no dumping “as we speak”.

However, the bird flu ban is temporary and dumping will resume when the ban is lifted.

All EU countries that export chicken to South Africa are dumping their unwanted surplus of dark chicken meat here. In every EU country, it costs more to produce a chicken than it does in South Africa. The only way they can market this expensive meat to South Africa, is to sell it below their cost of production, which is dumping.

Three countries – Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – have been found guilty of dumping and have not challenged that conviction. SAPA believes the duties applied to the three convicted dumpers are too low to deal with the unfairness of their dumping.

The only reason why not all EU countries that export to South Africa have been found guilty of dumping is the sometimes arcane rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), under which trade is regulated. SAPA will in due course launch actions against all the EU countries that fall within the WTO thresholds, all of whom are dumpers of dark meat.

In addition to pretending that it is not dumping chicken in South Africa, the EU also says the amount of chicken that South Africa imports is not enough to do the harm and cause the job losses that the local chicken industry is claiming. Yet in the EU there is resistance to import levels that are far lower than those devastating the South African industry.

EU chicken producers are jumping up and down in horror because the EU imports approximately 7% of its poultry products. Their poultry producers claim that this causes them harm, saying: “It is essential to guarantee a fair competition between EU and Third World countries.”

EU chicken producers want imports limited because “further market access or lower import levies granted to countries that do not meet our standards will continue to weaken the competitive position of the EU poultry meat industry and will put at risk a sector employing more than 300 000 EU citizens.”

South Africa currently imports 26% of the poultry products that are consumed locally. So how could 26% not be problematic to the local industry when 7% is problematic to the Europeans? – SAPA