South Africa has secured a trade reprieve with the US as all the conditions of its participation in and enjoyment of the duty-free trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) agreement have been met.
Days after missing the US-stipulated deadline to concede to certain demands for the elimination of barriers to US poultry, beef and pork trade, Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies told media on Thursday that all issues around the sanitary and phytosanitary matters blocking any move forward on the pact had now been resolved.
Speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria, he explained that all documents related to Agoa were signed, averting a partial suspension from the agreement, with a balance struck between opening up trade and mitigating animal and human health protocols to avoid any risk and uncertainty.
“We have come to the end of a rather long journey . . . that has led to a satisfactory conclusion,” Davies said.
In November, the US vowed to lift South Africa’s duty-free benefits on all Agoa-eligible agricultural goods should it fail to implement, by December 31, the agreement reached in Paris in June 2015 to ease restrictions on the three meats and improve market access for the US.
The outstanding issues that had hampered negotiations included protocols around salmonella, such as tolerance levels and protection procedures, and issues over imported beef that initially originated from outside the US, as South Africa refused to concede to anything that could risk the health of its citizens.
Mitigating concerns around salmonella, South Africa would, for the next three months, subject all consignments to risk profiles, after which a statistically risk-based sampling plan would be implemented to test imports for compliance.
South Africa’s market for the agreed-upon 65 000 t/y quota for bone-in-chicken pieces was now open and a poultry trade protocol on Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza was reached, with the pork health certificate negotiations concluded to ensure that appropriate scientific measures were taken by the US to manage the risk of transmission of the Avian Flu strain.
South Africa had also agreed to permit the unrestricted imports of shoulder cuts after the US agreed to apply mitigation measures to remove risk material before exportation.
Further, all disagreements around beef and the origins of US-exported meat had also been resolved.
South Africa had already agreed to import beef from the US; however, the US requested permission to import livestock from other countries for direct slaughter before export to South Africa.
The US had provided guarantees that livestock sourced from another country would be compliant with US domestic requirements.