The South African government is continuing with a number of interventions to support the domestic poultry industry, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Wednesday.
Interventions include measures to boost competitiveness, value-addition and technology upgrades; trade measures; export support to assist the domestic industry to access foreign markets; industrial finance and incentives with conditions for improving competitiveness; and measures to promote growth and transformation of the poultry industry among others.
The South African government previously established a task team to work towards a comprehensive plan for the poultry industry that would respond to the immediate threats facing it and suggest longer-term measures to improve competitiveness and transformation.
The task team comprises representatives from government, the private sector and labour unions.
To date, the DTI and the South African Poultry Association have started research work on the development of a Poultry Master Plan, which feeds in to the work of the task team.
The DTI indicated in a statement on Wednesday that global poultry meat consumption was rising, with white breast meat preferred by the higher-income consumers, mostly in developed economies and brown meat being preferred in developing countries.
This affects the global price patterns for poultry. In this regard, South Africa has experienced a rise in imports of bone-in chicken portions from a number of trading partners that puts pressure on the domestic industry.
The DTI asserted that there was a broad agreement that manufacturing-led growth is critical for high economic and employment growth and that the poultry sector was critical to this effort.
South Africa has adopted a developmental trade policy, which at its core is to support industrial policy. The role of the International Trade and Administration Commission (Itac) is, therefore, highlighted by the DTI as critical to informing the level of tariffs afforded to industry.
An industry that is experiencing challenges and seeks tariff protection is encouraged by the DTI to apply to Itac, which will undertake an independent investigation and make recommendations as appropriate to the Minister of Trade and Industry in accordance with South Africa’s international commitments on trade. This relates to both tariff investigations and trade remedies.
To this effect, government has put in place a range of trade measures to avert the demise of the poultry industry. These include the implementation of antidumping measures in cases where, through Itac investigations, there is evidence that poultry products are dumped in the South African market.
Safeguard measures have been implemented in cases of a surge in imports that are causing a threat of serious disturbance in the South African market, highlighted the DTI.
Duties on the import of whole birds have been increased to 82%, the maximum duty allowed in accordance with the country’s World Trade Organisation commitments. The current duty on bone-in chicken portions is 37%.
In addition, government has opened market access opportunities in the spirit of promoting export-led growth to a number of countries and regions, including the Gulf and the European Union.
All of these measures has assisted in giving the industry the necessary protection, the DTI stated.
It noted that these measures have been implemented despite pushback from the country’s trading partners.
Furthermore, South Africa is noted as prioritising food safety and assessing the food safety risks associated with meat products (both locally produced and imported) on a regular basis through the departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Health.
For locally produced meats, there are processes followed to ensure food safety. Meat products at the ports of entry are imported in line with the South African food safety requirements. Noncompliant products are rejected and either sent back to the country of origin or destroyed.
The poultry industry is emphasised as an important subsector within South African agriculture, providing the most affordable source of animal protein to the South African consumer, which makes it critical to food security.
“Government remains committed to using industrial and trade policy tools in order to address the competitiveness and sustainability of the poultry industry.”