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The amount of chicken the United States (US) is allowed to dump in South Africa has increased once again.
The allowance comes in the form of a substantial annual quota free from the anti-dumping duties that would otherwise have applied. These anti-dumping duties (R9,40/kg) have been in force since 2000 and they apply to imports from the US of bone-in portions such as leg quarters.
US negotiators forced the duty-free quota on South Africa during the finalisation in 2015 of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade agreement between the two countries. It was added at the last minute as a make-or-break condition, and the South African poultry industry reluctantly bowed to this pressure because of the huge benefits the agreement contained for other South African industries.
The quota was set at 65 000 tons for 2016, with annual increments. It rose to 71 290 tons in 2021 and has just been increased retrospectively to 71 632 tons for the year ending March 2023.
The quota did what US negotiators intended. It resulted in a dramatic increase in US chicken exports to South Africa. In 2015, these exports totalled a meagre 331 tons. Two years later, with the quota in force, imports from the US had soared to 69 000 tons, exceeding the quota. They rose further to 82 600 tons in 2019, again exceeding the quota.
Nearly all US imports are bone-in chicken. Volumes above the quota should be subject to the R9,40/kg anti-dumping duty, but the SA Poultry Association says it is not clear whether this was enforced.
Even though volumes have declined since 2018, mainly due to outbreaks of bird flu in Europe and now the US, the quota has made the US a major contributor to South African imports of bone-in chicken portions. These are the imports that do the most damage to the domestic industry since they unfairly compete with the popular locally produced packs of individually quick-frozen chicken portions.
In 2022, the US accounted for 49,6% of South Africa’s bone-in chicken imports, and volumes have increased this year despite the spread of bird flu in the country. All these imports are, by definition, dumped chicken. They escape penalties only because of the quota.
Small wonder that the South African poultry industry intends to oppose the continuation of the quota when the AGOA agreement comes up for renewal in 2025. – Press release, FairPlay Movement