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EU criticises SA Poultry Association for ‘massive’ media campaign falsely alleging it is dumping bone-in chicken — but the association intends to fight all EU countries
The EU has rejected as false claims by local poultry producers that it is dumping bone-in chicken portions onto the local market and causing widespread job losses in the industry.
Major poultry producers have shed jobs and closed plants because of what they say is the flood of imports from the EU. Total poultry imports currently represent about 26% of consumption according to the South African Poultry Association.
The EU delegation to SA has criticised the association for conducting what it calls a “massive” media campaign against EU poultry imports “alleging, on a daily basis, that the root cause of the job losses is the ongoing dumping, by the EU, of chicken bone-in parts. This allegation is false”.
“As we speak, there is no dumping of EU chicken in SA. If there had been, the association would have filed a complaint to the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) for dumping, as they did in the past. They have not. The South African authorities themselves acknowledge that dumping is not the issue,” the delegation said.
To support its case, the EU noted that aggregate imports of EU chicken bone-in imports to SA last year did not exceed 200,000 tonnes, representing less than 10% of overall poultry consumption: “We fail to see how such a relatively moderate market share should be the main cause of the problems facing the South African industry.”
It added that the outbreak of avian flu in a number of EU producer countries had resulted in a fall of more than 66% in EU exports of bone-in chicken portions this year. What was needed, the EU said, was for the heavily concentrated local industry to be restructured to allow more space for small-and medium-sized enterprises to operate. Merely imposing higher duties on EU imports would only result in importers switching to other chicken-exporting countries.
On Tuesday, CEO of the poultry association, Kevin Lovell, explained that it had opted for an application to Itac for safeguard duties, rather than anti-dumping duties, as the former applied to all EU countries — including those not currently exporting chicken to SA — whereas an anti-dumping duty could only be applied for against the imports of individual countries. The option of applying for anti-dumping duties could be used if the safeguard duty proposed by Itac is not satisfactory.
Anti-dumping duties have already been granted by Itac against Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, but the poultry association believes they are too low to deal with the problem. Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies imposed a 13.9% safeguard duty on EU bone-in chicken portions in December and instructed Itac to investigate the issue and make a further recommendation, which is expected to be submitted next month.
Poultry association chairman Achmat Brinkhuis also commented on the EU statement, saying the only reason all EU poultry-exporting countries to SA had not been found guilty of dumping was because of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, which set a minimum threshold on the volumes exported before anti-dumping duties can be considered.
“We will, in due course, launch actions against all those EU countries who fall within the WTO thresholds, all of whom are dumpers of dark meat,” Brinkhuis said. He stated that it was “false and misleading” for the EU to claim no dumping was taking place as this was only based on the fact that the outbreak of bird flu in the main chicken-producing countries in the EU meant they could not export at the moment.
“The bird flu ban is temporary, and dumping will resume when the ban is lifted,” Brinkhuis said.Source: Business Day