US - A proclamation from US President Barack Obama said this week that South Africa's duty-free access to US markets would be suspended unless the country begins to comply with US demands to import certain meat products.
Only last week, the two countries came to an agreement that should allow South Africa to begin imports of poultry and other meats, as sanitary measures for the products were finally resolved.
The US had claimed that South Africa's barriers to poultry imports, on the basis of the dangers of avian influenza, were scientifically unfounded, and threatened to remove its duty-free access under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The latest deadline has been put in place to ensure that South Africa clears the final hurdle for US meat imports. US Trade Representative Michael Froman said last week that "The true test of our success will be based on the ability of South African consumers to buy American product in local stores."
A statement from South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) responding to the proclamation said: "The new proclamation issued by President Obama announcing the suspension of agriculture benefits on the 15th of March will be lifted as soon as the first shipment of poultry enters the South African market.
"South Africa’s Departments of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are working closely with the local US Embassy, local importers and US exporters, to facilitate the first shipments of US poultry under the agreed Quota for US bone-in-chicken pieces.
"We are thus confident that the first shipment will arrive in the next few weeks and the US President will consequently revoke the above proclamation."
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