Time is running out for government to impose anti-dumping duties on chicken imports from Brazil and four European Union countries, as the August deadline fast approaches.
South Africa’s trade minister Ebrahim Patel approved the duties in August last year, but then delayed imposing them for 12 months. That year is up, and in the next few weeks Patel must announce whether the duties will come into effect or be delayed once again, says advocacy group FairPlay.
In an open letter to Patel, FairPlay founder Francois Baird said the government needed to honour its commitment to support the poultry industry and its thousands of jobs.
The poultry master plan, which Patel signed in 2019, had two overriding objectives – to expand the local poultry industry and to stop the dumped chicken imports that had put the industry in distress at the cost of thousands of jobs.
“The two go hand in hand. Freed from unfair competition from dumped imports, the local industry can expand, producing more chicken for the local and export markets and employing more people in the process,” Baird said.
He reminded Patel that the master plan committed the government to containing chicken imports and to “act decisively” against unfair trade and dumped chicken products.
While the poultry industry had exceeded its commitments in the master plan, investing more than R2.1 billion in capacity expansion and creating over 4 600 jobs, the government had not met its undertaking. Instead of “acting decisively” against dumped imports, it had postponed action for a year.
Baird urged the minister to consider the future of the local poultry industry, the continued existence of small-scale chicken farmers – all of them struggling to stay in business – and South African consumers, particularly low-income households, who depend on chicken as a staple food.
“The impact of Russia’s Ukraine war on global food supplies has shown that we cannot be dependent on imports for our food security. We need a strong local chicken industry, producing South Africa’s most popular and affordable meat protein at affordable prices, as it has for decades.
“That means it is time to ‘act decisively’ against dumped imports, as you and the government have committed yourselves to.
“Please, Minister Patel, for the sake of local chicken farmers, local jobs and local consumers – no more delays,” Baird concluded.