South Africa again moves to block U.S. chicken, pork imports

Another review of AGOA could be in works if South African poultry producers again try to block U.S. poultry and pork.

The U.S. government has asked the South African government to challenge another attempt by South African poultry producers to block U.S. imports of poultry products into South Africa.

Restrictions that had blocked the import of U.S. poultry for many years were lifted only earlier this year after protracted negotiations between the two governments. The South African Poultry Assn. (SAPA) now has gone to court seeking orders that would block the imports again.

Lifting the long restrictions on U.S. chicken imports was the main condition for South Africa to continue enjoying duty-free access to the U.S. for key exports under the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA).

The National Chicken Council reported in its Oct. 14 newsletter that James Sumner, president of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Export Council, said if the South African poultry producers win their court cases and U.S. poultry and pork imports are blocked again, “it probably would – and should – trigger another out-of-cycle review under AGOA.”

In January, South African and U.S. negotiators did reach an agreement on reopening markets to U.S. poultry, beef and pork products, but the Obama Administration said it would be watching to see if South Africa lives up to its commitments before reinstating full benefits of AGOA.

At the time, a U.S. Trade Representative spokesman said, “With the substantive points resolved, we are able to move to the final benchmark: testing the new system to make certain American poultry can be made available on store shelves in South Africa. We have extended the effective date of any AGOA action to allow sufficient time for our product to enter South Africa and are making sure with stakeholders in both countries to ensure this happens quickly so South Africa's AGOA benefits can continue uninterrupted.”

Only a limited number of U.S. poultry and meat products have been exported to South Africa in recent years due to unwarranted sanitary requirements by South African authorities, with most poultry exports blocked for the last 15 years. With this renewed access for U.S. red meat and poultry products, U.S. exports to South Africa could generate $75 million in shipments annually, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said after the agreement was reached.

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