- Chicken is being imported too cheaply from Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Poland, and Spain, South African authorities say.
- Those imports should be subjected to anti-dumping tariffs, to protect local producers – but food prices are a big concern.
- So the government has decided to postpone the imposition of tariffs for a year.
- The SA Poultry Association has argued that failure to protect chicken farmers will lead to job losses and, ultimately, higher prices.
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South Africa will not impose anti-dumping tariffs on chicken imports from Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Poland, and Spain, because food prices are too high, the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) announced on Monday.
After an investigation, the commission determined those countries were dumping chicken in the Southern African Customs Union area at below the cost of production, "causing material injury" to local producers.
Under global trade rules, that allows South Africa to impose extra import duties, in order to level out the price and so protect local producers from predatory behaviour.
Itac had recommended just such tariffs to trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel, who makes the final decision on such matters.
Patel accepted the recommendation, the commission said in a formal notice in the Government Gazette on Monday – but will not be acting on it yet.
"The minister approved the commission’s recommendation. However, in making its decision, the minister considered the current rapid rise in food prices in the SACU market and globally and the significant impact this has, especially on the poor, as well as the impact that the imposition of the anti-dumping duties may have on the price of chicken as one of the more affordable protein sources."
So Patel decided to "suspend the imposition of the anti-dumping duties", Itac said.
The SA Poultry Association had lobbied for the imposition of anti-dumping duties, warning of a dire impact on local jobs and, ultimately, food security and pricing, if South African chicken producers were not defended against unfair imports.
Food prices have been affected by both general inflationary pressures and a global increase in the price of grain, triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
In June, the national consumer price index (CPI) food basket was 9.2% more expensive than in 2021.