Appeal for halt to further increases in poultry tariffs

Appeal for halt to further increases in poultry tariffs

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EMERGING Black Importers and Exporters of South Africa (EBieSA) last week appealed to the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition to halt further reviews of the import tariffs for poultry because the increases last year distorted the market.

This follows an ongoing review of the tariff structure, which was last upgraded in March last year, which resulted in increases from 37 percent to 62 percent on frozen bone-in chicken portions and increases on frozen boneless portions from 12 percent to 42 percent.

EBieSA chairperson Unati Speirs said further tariffs on imports could impact food security for the poorest of the poor, and called on the industry urgently to implement the transformation commitments contained in the Poultry Master Plan.

“We are afraid that the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition’s (DTIC) new poultry tariff structure could increase tariffs through specific tariffs rather than ad valorem, which could further increase applied tariffs more than the current bounded tariff of 82 percent. Specific tariffs are not preferred, as they would be for certain cuts or from certain sources and potentially exceed the bounded rate,” she said in submissions to the DTIC.

Speirs said the impact of the initiatives contained in the Poultry Master Plan need to be carefully weighed against the impact of the increase in Most Favoured Nation duty rates levied last year and the impact of Covid19 on the local and global economies.

“These factors have distorted the chicken market. It is thus critical that the market is allowed to settle and understand the true impact of the increased tariff regime before there is any consideration given to any further changes or modifications to the tariff structure,” she said.

Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel wants the tariff structure for poultry imports reviewed to include the introduction of specific anti-dumping measures to protect the struggling local industry.

In a recent notice published in the Government Gazette, Patel instructed the International Trade Administration Commission – the organisation tasked with customs tariff investigations, trade remedies, and import and export control – to review the entire tariff structure for poultry, taking into consideration the introduction of specific rather than ad valorem customs duties, a duty calculated according to the price of a product, rather than at a fixed rate.

The DTIC recommends an 80/20 split between locally produced and imported goods.

South Africa imports only 20 percent of poultry consumed in the country, a vast proportion of which is mechanically deboned meat, which is not able to be produced in substantial amounts in South Africa.

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