By Katharine Richter
On August 7, 2015, the Office of the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) held a hearing to determine “whether South Africa should be suspended from the recently renewed African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)” because of failure to eliminate specific agricultural trade barriers previously agreed upon. AGOA, a trade agreement giving South Africa very “liberal access to the U.S. market,” was renewed on June 29, 2015.
According to a joint statement from USTR, on June 4 and 5, 2015, industry representatives and government officials from the United States and South Africa met in France to discuss agricultural trade issues in relation to renewing AGOA. South Africa had agreed to allow “renewed market access for U.S. bone-in-chicken.” Prior to the meeting, South Africa placed anti-dumping duties on American chicken, effectively banning U.S. chicken. South Africa at the meeting agreed to create the framework allowing U.S. chicken imports.
The President of the National Chicken Council (NCC), Mike Brown, testified at the hearing that South Africa needs to begin to “treat U.S. products fairly… [and] unless South Africa makes significant progress in this regard, the law now requires the president to take action to limit, or even deny, further preferences.”
This response from NCC is a result of South Africa failing to implement agreements made at the France meeting. According to the testimony, “South Africa has agreed to open, and the U.S. industry has agreed to accept, an initial annual antidumping duty-free quota of 65,000 MT, with future growth in that quota calculated upon an agreed formula…” Mike Brown stated in his testimony, “In our view, South Africa will have only made the progress it is required to make under the AGOA renewal legislation when there are actual imports of U.S. poultry moving into South Africa.”