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US chickens closer to landing in local pots

| Legislation

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies on Thursday gave his official go-ahead for the annual importation of 65,000 tonnes of US bone-in chicken portions free of antidumping duties.

Mr Davies signed off on a report submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry by the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac). Itac fast-tracked the process of collecting and considering public submissions on its proposed regulations for the rebate on the imported chicken quota which was based on an agreement reached between the South African Poultry Association and the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council in June.

The department’s director-general, Lionel October, said the Itac report, which includes guidelines as to how and on what basis import permits would be allocated, would be sent to Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and the South African Revenue Service, which will publish them.

An ad valorem duty of 37% will continue to apply to all chicken imports after the lifting of the antidumping duty of R9.40/kg on the quota chicken.

Mr Davies’s sign-off is by no means the end of the road as the import permits for a share of the quota will have to be allocated to qualifying importers. Association of Meat Importers and Exporters CEO David Wolpert does not believe that the US chicken will arrive on SA’s shores before the end of March next year. Apart from the permit allocations, negotiations will have to take place with US suppliers and the chicken will have to be shipped, he explained.

The manner in which black companies will be included in the permit allocations still has to be made public as well.

Itac chief commissioner Siyabulela Tsengiwe said on Thursday that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries would accept applications for permits based on the published guidelines. The department would make the allocations and recommend to Itac that it issue the import permits.

Mr October noted that there were still one or two outstanding sanitary and phytosanitary issues related to the import of US poultry, beef and pork, which had to be thrashed out between South African and US veterinarians. For poultry this related to the tolerance level of salmonella. The issues have to be resolved by January 6, otherwise SA’s agricultural exports will no longer be able to enter the US market duty-free under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

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