SOUTH AFRICA - South Africa has said it is confident that outstanding issues relating to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) will be resolved.
AGOA is an arrangement with the US that allows reduced tariffs for exports from South Africa to the US.
But US President Barack Obama announced in November that duty-free access for South Africa's agricultural products would be suspended, unless South Africa made progress on allowing imports of US chicken, pork and beef.
The deadline for South Africa to allow access for these meats, on 31 December, has now passed, meaning an announcement of extra tariffs on South African products is expected soon.
In a last-ditch attempt to avoid such action, South African government officials have been engaged with their US counterparts during the festive season to finalise all the outstanding technical issues to allow for safe imports of poultry, pork and beef products from the US.
South Africa's statement said that since the negotiations began South Africa has made significant progress on opening its market for the three US meats, including completing an agreement on a quota for bone-in-chicken pieces and a poultry trade protocol on avian flu.
"While the 31st December deadline has passed both sides are committed to continue the negotiations. South Africa believes that with some flexibility from both sides the final touches to the agreement on which 95 per cent of the work has been done can be completed with some extra-time," the statement said.
During the past few weeks, South Africa said pork health certificates have been negotiated and only require signatures from both sides, and much progress has been made on beef with a few issues that can be finalised quickly.
However, some technical issues are still to be finalised on the issue of Salmonella contamination.
ThePoultrySite News Desk