US - Two US Senators have called on South African president Jacob Zuma to resolve issues around imports of US poultry to the country.
Following an agreement made in Paris in June, South Africa was supposed to re-open market access for specified quotas of certain US meat products, after years of imposing anti-dumping tariffs.
However, the two countries have so far been unable to resolve remaining issues with the trade measures, with South Africa claiming to be maintaining bans on imports as a sanitary measure to protect the country from avian influenza.
US Senators Johnny Isakson and Chris Coons urged President Zuma on Friday to act expeditiously to resolve these issues and allow US poultry exports to South Africa to resume.
“Our understanding is that there are two processes that need to be completed in South Africa to implement the Paris agreement,” the senators wrote in their letter to President Zuma.
“First, a rebate facility must be created to legally exempt the annual quota amount from antidumping duties. Second, the rules for allocation and administration of the quota must be developed through a transparent legal process... We are also disappointed to learn that here has been no progress in addressing South Africa’s complete ban on US poultry due to avian influenza.”
The US maintains that such a blanket ban is inconsistent with World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards, which say that bans should be regionalised to allow area unaffected by disease to continue trading.
The pair expressed their disappointment in South Africa’s slow response since an agreement was reached. “Without these issues being addressed and in place,” the senators wrote, “US companies cannot ship product, regardless of the other terms of the Paris agreement being reached.”
If the two countries fail to reach a compromise, South Africa risks losing its benefits under the US' African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a trade preference agreement that was renewed after the Paris talks earlier this year.
The pair pointed to the ongoing review by the US Trade Representative as another reason for swift action to be taken by South Africa to complete those essential processes.
“As you are well aware, a review of South Africa’s eligibility under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is presently underway,” Senators Isakson and Coons continued.
“You also know that it is crucially important to both of us that there be a successful and expeditious resolution of this issue so that the US poultry industry can begin again to participate in the South African market.”
Mr Isakson and Mr Coons are the co-chairs of the Senate Chicken Caucus. Both their states have large poultry industries and are major exporters of poultry.
A pdf of the letter to President Zuma is available online here.
Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.