AMIE welcomes rebates for boneless, bone-in chicken product imports

26th January 2024 By: Sabrina Jardim - Creamer Media Online Writer

The Association of Meat Importers and Exporters of Southern Africa (AMIE) has welcomed the decision by Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel and the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (Itac) to implement rebates on boneless and bone-in chicken cuts, saying the move will keep the price of chicken in check for consumers, especially for poor households that are struggling to afford this vital source of protein. 

The decision was published on January 26 and it provides a 30% rebate on boneless and 25% rebate on bone-in cuts of imported chicken.

The decision follows the AMIE’s submission to Itac in November 2023, calling for rebates to be applied on imported chicken. 

Imported chicken currently carries a duty of 62% for frozen bone-in and 42% for boneless chicken pieces. According to the AMIE, import duties are an extremely regressive form of tax, meaning that it impacts on consumers most directly. 

Chicken remains the most affordable and essential source of protein for consumers, especially the poor, who are struggling to meet their families’ basic food security needs. The AMIE believes this decision shows that government is alive to the plight of poor South Africans.

“As the AMIE, we congratulate the Minister and Itac on this decision and look forward to the guidelines, which will be published in due course. We also hope that the [Department of Trade, Industry and Competition] recognises the importance of this move for consumers, and that they streamline the process to eliminate any red tape in rebate applications for importers.

“Government’s mandate is to act on behalf of its citizens, and this requires it to do all it can to ensure that the country is food secure, and that the poor are able to afford poultry. This decision demonstrates that the Minister is acutely aware of this,” says AMIE CEO Paul Matthew.

However, the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) argues that there is no rational argument for a rebate on tariffs, adding that there was no poultry meat shortage over the festive season and that the supply chain is well stocked.

“The implementation of a rebate and any permits issued under this will be the single most damaging action to a poultry industry already on its knees.

“We will be dismayed if government even considers applications, never mind approves permits, for poultry imports under the rebates,” it says.

SAPA notes that this would “sacrifice” one of the few agricultural industries in South Africa that is globally competitive, stating that the South African market does not need poultry imports to avert any potential shortage of chicken on the back of any Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza event.

“We have ably demonstrated that the local industry does have tangible contingency plans. The proof is in the supply of locally produced chicken to the South African market, with no shortages.”