Meat importers are optimistic about an end to the “chicken wars” following engagements with ministers this week.
Various industry players opposed an application by the South African Poultry Association (Sapa) to impose higher tariffs on chicken imports, citing the current ones failed to protect the local industry from failing to compete with foreign chicken prices.
According to department of trade and industry spokesperson Sidwell Medupi, the industry had begun work with government to open up new export markets for local poultry.
Paul Matthew, CEO of the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AMIE), opined that South Africa was poised to benefit from a national poultry strategy. This after industry players met Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel and Agriculture Minister Thokozile Didiza.
“Minister Patel explained how he wished to build a strong poultry strategy that will ensure that AMIE, with its international resources, and Sapa, with it local resources, work together.”
This was in the midst of a fierce lobby war between importers who have canvassed against the proposed tariff, even claiming it could lead to job losses and lead to food price increases.
Local producers have, on the other hand claimed the local market was falling victim to “chicken dumping”.
While labour echoed the call for stricter import rules as it posed a threat to jobs in the industry, the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) said tariffs were not pinned as the ultimate solution.
“We have also placed an argument with regards to the tariffs that they are not the ultimate answer to limiting chicken dumping, because other countries can afford to pay these higher tariffs and keep dumping more chicken here. Then, the local suppliers will still be adversely affected.”
An investigation by the International Trade Administration Commission was under way to determine whether the proposed tariff hike on chicken products, from 37% to 82%, was justified. The body would then make a recommendation to the department of trade and industry for a final decision.