DTI responds to Malema's poultry tariff hike demand

Cape Town – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has established a national committee that will consider the challenges local poultry producers currently face, according to Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies. 

“The national committee, which includes the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, will develop a comprehensive strategy to address these challenges in a holistic and comprehensive manner,” Davies said. 

His response was in reaction to a letter addressed to the DTI, in which Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema urged Davies to impose a 50% tariff on imported chicken to safeguard the domestic poultry industry against dumping from overseas producers, and to protect local jobs. 

In his letter, Malema said the substantial increases in poultry imports caused more than 1 500 poultry farm workers to lose their jobs in 2016. “In addition, well over 3 000 poultry farm workers are in the process of being retrenched as companies are closing down.”

Although Davies didn't go into specifics about how the job losses could be countered, he said an investigation is currently under way in which the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC) is looking at additional measures to safeguard South African poultry producers against imported chicken. 

“The provisional safeguard measure was imposed by the South African Revenue Service on December 15 2016 and will stay in place until July 3 2017, while ITAC finalises the safeguard investigation,” Davies said. 

He acknowledged that the poultry industry has indicated that 13.9% is not sufficient and that a duty of 37% should be imposed. 

“The duty of 13.9% was calculated based on the information provided by the domestic industry but since ITAC is currently continuing with the investigation, the poultry industry has an opportunity to provide further information to ITAC to substantiate a higher safeguard duty,” Davies said.

READ: Government can save poultry industry as job losses loom

He added that the DTI is also in the process of considering the designation of domestic poultry products for purposes of public procurement, while an incentive programme should assist producers in the domestic agri-processing sector, including poultry, to improve their competitiveness.

“With the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, we are continuously working on opening new markets for our poultry exports. Recently new markets in the Middle East have been opened and present a further opportunity for export to the domestic poultry industry in South Africa,” Davies said.

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