New agricultural levy will be burden on SA consumers, meat importers warn

03 October 2018 | Web Article Number: ME201812028

Agriculture & Sugar
Commerce & Trade
Finance & Investment
Food & Beverage
Import / Export

THE Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AIME) has expressed concern at the latest gazetted Agricultural Safeguard levy of 35.3% imposed on bone-in chicken cuts.

According to the association, Europe - South Africa’s largest trading partner and a particularly important importer of many of our own agricultural products - sees the Safeguard as a considerable blow to the preferential nature of their trade relations with South Africa. It added that this could have a dire impact on the already cash-strapped South African consumer.

“Considering the current economic climate in South Africa, this could not come at a worse time,” says Paul Matthew, CEO Designate from AMIE. “SA via the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), in its misguided attempts to protect its domestic poultry industry, has once again imposed a tariff on imports which will, as history has shown, be passed on to those that can least afford it: the local consumer.”

He suggested that the step contradicts article 34.2 of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between South Africa and the EU which clearly states that trade actions imposed in terms of this agreement must have risen during the tenure of the agreement.

“This is clearly not the case, as the alleged hardships caused to SA poultry pre-date the implementation of the EPA agreement. South Africa has thus violated these terms and is in serious breach of an international agreement.”

He added that figures published by major players in the local poultry sector reflect a “highly profitable industry, generating huge shareholder returns and hardly in need of protection”.

He said South Africa could also be liable, in that that it has not adhered to the terms of the EPA, which states that before any implementation of such a safeguard, the proposed trade measures must be referred to a joint EU/SACU Trade and Development Council for discussion.

Matthew said that as far as AIME was aware, this step in the process was totally ignored and omitted. The association is currently studying the details of the Safeguard and reviewing its options.

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