No SA Action on ‘Dumped’ Chickens

SOUTH AFRICA - The South African government has decided not to impose additional duties on the import of Brazilian chickens — a decision which will stop Brazil’s complaint to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in its tracks.
calendar icon 24 December 2012
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However, this is likely to unleash vociferous opposition by local poultry producers, who claim their businesses are being harmed by the "dumping" of Brazilian chicken products, BDLive reports.

It is reliably understood that today’s Government Gazette will not provide for additional duties on Brazilian chicken imports and that future gazettes will not do so either.

The date is significant because the International Trade Administration Commission was given until Monday to make a final decision whether to impose additional duties on the import of Brazilian whole birds and boneless cuts into SA.

Failing such a determination, the application by the South African Poultry Association (Sapa) would lapse.

South African Poultry Association CEO Kevin Lovell said he could not comment on the body’s future course of action until it had been officially informed of the decision by the Department of Trade and Industry and the reasons for it. However, the association did not envisage legal action, he said. He noted that in a statement of essential facts distributed to stakeholders in October, the international trade commission supported the view that dumping was taking place.

Association of Meat Importers and Exporters CEO David Wolpert said he too was unable to comment on the decision until it had been promulgated.

However, he stressed that if it was indeed the case that no additional duties were to be imposed on Brazilian chicken imports, it would be "good news for the South African consumer, because it will keep prices at reasonable levels". His association was ready to go to court to contest any decision to impose duties, on the grounds that the international trade commission’s investigation was flawed.

Mr Wolpert said imports of whole birds and boneless cuts represented about 10 per cent of the production of comparable products in SA, and therefore foregoing duties would not harm the local chicken industry.

The trade commission, which is responsible for customs tariff investigations, trade remedies, and import and export control in SA, slapped preliminary additional duties of 62.93 per cent on whole chickens and 46.59 per cent on boneless cuts from Brazil in February. This was pending the finalisation of an investigation which found that Brazilian boneless chicken and whole chicken imports were being sold more cheaply in the Southern African Customs Union than in Brazil.

The commission recommended to Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies that antidumping duties on frozen Brazilian chickens be imposed. However, Mr Davies sent back its final determination in August, following complaints by the Brazilian government.

Brazil protested to the WTO claiming that SA had failed to give Brazilian exporters sufficient opportunity to present evidence prior to the imposition of provisional duties. Brazil said the South African Poultry Association had "grossly overstated" statistics on chicken imports and cited SA’s "unco-operativeness" and "unreasonable attitude" as reasons to protest.

Brazil said the dispute had compromised its "friendship" with SA — both countries are members of the Brics (Brazil‚ Russia‚ India‚ China and SA) group of leading developing countries.

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