Cape Town - An import tariff on European Union bone-in chicken products, which could see prices rise by punitive amounts, will come as a big shock for many South Africans, the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters of South Africa (AMIE) said.
“This will substantially increase prices on individually quick frozen (IQF) packs – the type of chicken both most affected by a potential tariff as well as the type of chicken consumed by the poorest South Africans.”
It noted in a statement on Tuesday that it launched a campaign to stop this potentially devastating new tariff, which is being pushed by the local poultry industry. This, said Amie, represents their fourth protectionist appeal to government in five years.
“In February, the South African Poultry Association (SAPA), launched, via the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) agricultural safeguard action against EU chicken,” said Amie.
“SAPA are essentially looking to institute protectionist action, in the form of a 37% import tariff on EU bone in chicken products,” it claimed.
Amie pointed out that the role of local industry should be to adopt policies and practices that protect consumers.
“Instead their relentless pursuit of protectionist practices again comes at the expense of the poor. Surely now is not an appropriate time for such potentially damaging action.
“South Africans are already suffering under huge financial stresses – something ITAC as a public entity needs to take into account,” cautioned Amie.
Amie’s campaign – featuring billboards, print ads and a controversial social media video – aims to raise public awareness about the local poultry industry’s role in pushing for this price increase. It is also intended to encourage ITAC to halt the implementation of an agricultural safeguard.
The EU and South Africa in 2004 concluded an agreement on trade, development and cooperation, which has seen EU poultry arrive in SA since 2012 with no import tariffs. Amie said this helped keep the shelf price of these products lower for consumers.
However, SAPA CEO Kevin Lovell did not agree. "It is only importers and retailers who might be affected and not consumers," he told Fin24.
"In any event the product now imported is sold for the same price or more than our product so is there no consumer benefit to these imports."
He said all the proposal does is, if it is successful, is to return the EU to having to compete with the other suppliers of imports on a more even footing.
"In 2009 the EU supplied less than 0.5% of the imports of bone-in portions. Last year they supplied more than 80% and the total market has grown dramatically in the interim."
He said a local research body, BFAP, in cooperation with a Dutch research institute, that SA is a much more competitive producer than the EU.