South Africa is set to suspend the imposition of anti-dumping duties on chicken imports from Brazil and four European Union countries – Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Spain – for at least a year, in order to protect consumers’ pockets amid high food prices.
The SA Meat Importers and Exporters Association (AMIE) has applauded the move, saying it means many consumers living below the poverty line will be better able to afford an important source of protein.
“This shows that our government, and specifically Minister [of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim] Patel, are alive to the plight of consumers and ready to take bold actions to help mitigate the impact of rampant inflation,” says AMIE CEO Paul Matthew.
The suspension follows an investigation by the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) into anti-dumping duties against the five countries, in which it determined that chicken is sold in SA at extremely low prices, causing “material injury” to the local poultry industry.
Prior to the completion of the Itac investigation, the government had imposed provisional anti-dumping duties from December 2021 until June, to combat what the SA Poultry Association described as predatory and unfair trade.
The association warned of massive job losses, record high food prices and threatened food security without the implementation of the provisional duties. Industry harm was seen when earnings and profits from SA’s poultry producers, such as Astral Foods and RCL Foods, plunged.
Patel says that in making his decision this time he considered the current rapid rise in food prices in the local market and globally, and the significant impact this has on the poor. This is according to a Government Gazette notice published on Monday (1 August).
Food prices have been affected by inflationary pressures and high oil prices triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The suspension of additional tariffs on chicken imported from the five countries is a first step in the right direction, says Matthew.
“Governments around the world have been slashing import tariffs as a way to help their citizens survive. Mexico, the Philippines and South Korea have removed tariffs on imported goods, including chicken, to curb and mitigate the impact of rising inflation on their people.
“The liberalisation of trade policies can help consumers,” he adds.
“The opposite is true of localisation and protectionist policies because they restrict competition, which lead[s] to an increase in the price of local goods.”
AMIE says it lodged an application for government to consider a moratorium on tariffs on imported chicken to help curb inflation in April. It also asked for existing tariffs to be reconsidered and for all chicken cuts to be exempted from value-added tax.
Palesa Mofokeng is a Moneyweb intern.
Listen: SA Association of Meat Importers and Exporters CEO Paul Matthew on the impact of the imported chicken tariff suspension (read transcript)