SOUTH AFRICA - South Africa must open its markets to US poultry or risk losing its benefits from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the president of the US' National Chicken Council (NCC) has said.
Mike Brown delivered testimony at a hearing held by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), as part of a congressionally mandated review of whether South Africa should be suspended from the recently renewed AGOA because of agricultural market access barriers.
Two members of Congress – Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Senator Chris Coons of Delaware – have been in the forefront on this issue, and their efforts resulted in an amendment to AGOA’s renewal that requires this out-of-cycle review of South Africa. The amendment passed the Senate Finance Committee unanimously in late April.
“Congress has now demanded that South Africa change its ways and treat US products fairly, most especially US chicken,” Mr Brown said in his testimony.
“Unless South Africa makes significant progress in this regard, the law now requires the president to take action to limit, or even deny, further preferences.
"We want to express the profound thanks of our industry members to these two senators for their commitment to US producers and exporters, and to the principles of fair trade.”
Brown also took the opportunity to thank USTR, and our Ambassador to South Africa, the Honorable Patrick Gaspard and the fine team from his Embassy, for working with the NCC to try to find a way forward.
“With their help, we were able to reach an agreement in principle with the South African industry and government to reopen trade during meetings in Paris in early June,” Mr Brown said.
As has been publically announced by its Trade Minister, South Africa has agreed to an annual anti-dumping duty-free quota of 65,000 MT, that also allows for future growth.
Mr Brown stressed at the hearing that it is up to South Africa to take action.
"It is the South African poultry industry and the South African government that must take the actions necessary to implement the agreement that we achieved in Paris.
"The US industry is prepared to support those efforts and to participate to make sure the terms and conditions of quota administration are fair and effective; but the onus for eliminating the duties on the agreed 65,000 MT, for developing quota administration rules, and for establishing conducive sanitary rules are on South Africa.”
Mr Brown also said that the negotiations will not have been successful unless US imports are achieved.
"It is not enough to have reached an agreement in principle in Paris, or to initiate various legal processes in South Africa.
"In our view, South Africa will have only made the progress it is required to make under the AGOA renewal legislation when there are actual imports of US poultry moving into South Africa.”
Mr Brown concluded: “While Congress has now conditionally extended AGOA benefits to South Africa, its expectations are clear: South Africa must open its markets to US poultry or lose those benefits. South Africa is on the clock… we are watching and so is Congress.”
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