SOUTH AFRICA - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed the government will not allow further job losses or farm closures as a result of dumping and uncompetitive practices that have battered the South African poultry industry.
However, Mr Ramaphosa said SA would not adopt a protectionist stance towards trade and diplomacy as this would leave the country worse off in tit-for-tat disputes with critical trade partners.
According to BusinessDay, Producers from countries including Brazil and the US have dumped chicken in SA which is sold at prices local producers are unable to compete with, leading to farm closures and job losses.
Replying to a question from National Council of Provinces member for the IFP, Mntomuhle Khawula, Mr Ramaphosa said the government had two task teams working on the matter to seek solutions and develop incentives for poultry producers to sustain jobs.
"The government will do everything in its power to ensure no factory closures or job losses in the poultry industry. We will employ trade measures to protect our industry from dumping and unfair trade practice. We will introduce support measures to ensure production and maintain security," said Mr Ramaphosa.
He said the two task teams addressing the matter were from the government and from business and labour.
Mr Khawula asked if the government had the backbone to stand up to larger economies which had bargained hard on the issue of chicken dumping, Mr Ramaphosa said negotiations SA had entered into with the US had saved SA from much worse than what it was enduring now.
"The task team is looking at the types of incentives for employers to save jobs that are currently being lost. We are well aware of the problems and will act as quickly as you are urging us to act. When it comes to Agoa [the African Growth and Opportunity Act], in terms of the chicken imports, [it] could have been worse than what we have now because the initial call was for a bigger tonnage to come in," said Mr Ramaphosa.
He warned against brinkmanship when negotiating with trade partners. He said "raising our walls" would cost the country trade arrangements that had been of immense benefit to the South African economy.
"A trade war could be launched against us. We could find ourselves losing much more than we actually have. Is that what we want? Some of you say yes, but a war is a terrible thing to get involved in because there is collateral damage all round," he said.ThePoultrySite News Desk