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Feathers ruffled over poultry imports

| Legislation

Poultry industry players say the United States is using the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), and its favourable market access by sub-Saharan countries, to force the hand of South Africa in a dispute over chicken imports amid concerns about health standards.

Early yesterday, US President Barack Obama ordered preferential access of South Africa’s agricultural products like wine be suspended if no deal was reached over the importation of chicken by March 15.

Last week, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies announced an agreement had been reached over animal health issues, particularly bird flu that had affected US and Canadian poultry producers.

Yesterday, the Department of Trade and Industry insisted South Africa’s Agoa benefits would not be revoked, and that the Americans had insisted only on seeing their poultry exports on South African shelves.

Daybreak Farms chief executive Kholofelo Maponya said the threats by the US government to revoke South Africa’s Agoa benefits was a “joke”.

“They’ve forced their way by bringing in this chicken, disregarding our health standards... Now they want government to sell the chicken.

“The compromise reached by government was to compromise our health standards, our sanitary rules that every other country adheres to.”

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