Davies: SA will try to end 'chicken war' soon

Cape Town - South Africa and the United States have agreed to strengthen and deepen their bilateral trade and investment relations, the SA Department of Trade and Industry (dti) said on Sunday.

This was agreed during the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (Tifa) Council meeting that was held in the US.

The Council was co-chaired by SA Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies and the United States Trade Representative (USTR) ambassador Michael Froman.

The two countries signed the revised Tifa in 2012 and it is a key platform to address issues of bilateral concerns and boost SA's bilateral trade and investment relations, according to the dti.
 
"South Africa and the US continue to enjoy a cordial and growing trade and investment relationship. Minister Davies and ambassador Froman had fruitful and constructive discussions on the on Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), outstanding market access issues and the investment climate, as well as issues on the multilateral trade agenda," the dti said in a statement.
 
Amongst market access issues discussed, Davies committed that South Africa will work towards concluding the poultry discussions soon. The same message was communicated in his meeting with US senators Chris Coons and Johnny Isakson.

READ: US amendment turns up heat in 'chicken war' with SA

The proposed deal would see US chicken bone-in cuts exports being restored to their value prior to 2000 with a growth factor that takes into account current dynamics in the South African market.

"The outstanding issue is for the poultry associations from both sides to agree on the quantity of US chicken in which anti-dumping duties would be excluded," according to the dti.

Davies appealed to the US to engage its poultry industry to also show flexibility in the negotiations so that the outcome is reasonable and is a volume that both parties can leave with.

READ: 'Chicken war' to be over soon - Davies

The South African and US poultry associations met earlier this week on the margins of International Egg and Poultry meetings in Europe.

"We expect the South African Poultry Association (Sapa) to table an improved offer that would likely lead to a deal being finalised. Both Minister Davies and ambassador Froman agreed to continue to encourage their respective poultry industries to find the sweet spot. Minister Davies and ambassador Froman committed to resolving other outstanding issues of concern from both sides in the shortest possible time," said the dti.
 
The Tifa Council meeting also noted growth in investment relations and committed to work together in continuing to improve the business and investment climate in the two countries.

The private sector associations from both South Africa and the US, following their roundtable engagement, had an opportunity to present their outcomes to the Tifa meeting.

The South African business delegation, led by the CEO of Business Unity South Africa Kanyisile Kweyama, participated in the business roundtable. Scott Eisner, vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce and Stephan Hayes, president of the Corporate Council on Africa, led the US business delegation.
 
Following the conclusion of the Tifa Council meeting, the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee introduced the Agoa Extension and Enhancement Act of 2015.

The act proposes the reauthorisation of Agoa, including South Africa. It also proposes the extension of the third country fabric provision for 10 years. The bill is not final as it still needs to be taken through Congress for approval and then signature by President Barack Obama.

The bill also introduced some conditions that, among others, would allow the US to review the SA’s eligibility at any time.
 
"South Africa together with sub-Saharan African countries will continue reaching out to members of congress for the timely renewal of Agoa for all eligible countries, including South Africa, without any conditionalities," said the dti.

ALSO READ: Biden, Ramaphosa in 'chicken war' talks

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