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US lawmakers want South Africa to lift import taxes on poultry

US lawmakers want South Africa to lift import taxes on poultry
Published date:
Friday, 26 December 2014
Kate Fisher

Trade benefits allowed to South Africa under the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act could be under threat if the country does not lift import taxes on U.S. poultry. Two U.S. senators have written to South African President Zuma asking him to open up the market to U.S. companies, saying that if no progress is made the extension of duty preferences given to South Africa under the African Growth and Opportunity Act or AGOA would be reconsidered.

It’s a multi-billion dollar poultry industry in the U.S., but for the last 14 years duties levied by South Africa have blocked American poultry farmers from exporting to the country. Two U.S. lawmakers have written to President Jacob Zuma warning him that continued refusal to act could result in the end of trade benefits extended to South Africa under the African Growth and Opportunity Act or AGOA.

“I am determined to make sure that people of South Africa have opportunities to grow in partnerships with the United States but I will not allow AGOA to be reauthorized as long as South Africa continues its illegal and inappropriate ban on the import of all U.S. poultry,” Senator Chris Coons, Co-chair of Senate Chicken Caucus said.

Opening up the South African market could be worth tens of millions of dollars to American poultry farmers. But just as important they say is that it would give them a chance to partner with South African farmers to expand into markets in the rest of southern Africa. According to one trade advisor, the duties levied on U.S. poultry were unexpected.

“It’s ironic thing for us now, because in 2000 when AGOA was originally passed giving South Africa significant privileges, some duty preferences, South Africa turned around and slapped heavy duties on our poultry. It was something we didn’t expect. We didn’t think it was a very friendly gesture and we’ve been trying to get those lifted ever since,” Kevin Brosch, trade advisor to U.S. poultry industry said.

Chris Coons added that a timely solution to the ban can further enhance trade relations. “The clock’s ticking and it’s time for us to clear the air and to work towards a fair and appropriate resolution to this long standing issue so that we can move past poultry and towards a real positive future together,” he said.

For several years, the U.S. government has been working directly with the South African government to remove duties on U.S. poultry. At the moment, U.S. lawmakers are considering the re-authorization of AGOA and urge the South African government to act or jeopardize future trade benefits.


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