Importers Step up Fight over Poultry Tariffs

by 5m Editor
7 June 2013, at 8:59am

SOUTH AFRICA - The Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (Amie) has strongly criticised local poultry producers for "using misinformation and innuendo" in a bid to convince decision makers and the public that imports were a threat to local business.

Chicken imports, mainly from Brazil, have ruffled the feathers of local producers who have made an application to the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) for protection, reports BusinessDay.

Amie is locked in bid to access "confidential" information from the tariff increase application by local poultry producers. If granted, a tariff increase was expected to make cheap, frozen imported chicken more expensive.

Chicken is the most accessible and widely consumed source of meat protein in South Africa. But producers argue that imports threaten jobs.

Amie spokesman Georg Southey said on Thursday (6 June) that Itac had granted the association a hearing that would provide for oral representations over the application’s socioeconomic implications. "The next step for us is to approach the high court to access the confidential information with which the producers applied so that we can accurately object to the increase in duties application.

"We believe that the information that was used was flawed and want to interrogate it."

South African Poultry Association CEO Kevin Lovell said local producers had applied for a tariff increase in line with the recommendation contained in a letter from Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. "Nothing is a given in the process. If importers lose business it’s because we want to grow our business and employment".

Further, Mr Lovell said local producers were shedding jobs as South Africa had become the dumping ground for poultry products from exporters.

Amie CEO David Wolpert said while the poultry association insists that tariff increases would only push up the price of imported chicken 15 per cent, even this would be "three times the inflation rate" and "would have a huge impact on the poor."