WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), co-chairs of the Senate Chicken Caucus, today applauded an announcement by the Obama Administration and the U.S. poultry industry that South Africa has finally agreed to eliminate longstanding barriers to U.S. poultry imports, enabling U.S. poultry to be imported into South Africa for the first time in 15 years.
Today’s announcement was the outcome of a June 2015 agreement that was reached in the long-running poultry dispute between the United States and South Africa. Ultimate success will only be achieved when U.S. poultry finally enters the South African market, which could occur within a month.
“South Africa’s decision to finally fulfill the obligations of the settlement reached last summer means that after more than fifteen years of illegal anti-dumping duties and unfair trade policies, American poultry will finally be able to enter the South African market,” said Senators Coons and Isakson. “The success of this deal is the result of years of discussions led by our poultry sector and U.S. trade officials, and we are proud to have also played our part. South Africa is a critical market for the U.S. poultry industry, and will lead to tens of millions of dollars more in annual export sales. It is also a good deal for South Africa, as our poultry is healthy, affordable, and of the highest quality, and we are thrilled that it will finally reach the dinner tables of South Africans. The U.S. poultry industry is committed to investing in the South African poultry sector, and this deal will help build a strong partnership between our industries.”
Senators Coons and Isakson and have been pressuring the South African government for more than a year to end the anti-dumping duties and unfair food safety and health trade policies on U.S. poultry. The senators met on numerous occasions with South African President Jacob Zuma and other South African officials to discuss this issue over the last several years.
They also secured language in last year’s African Growth and Opportunity Act, reauthorization requiring an out-of-cycle review of South Africa's benefits due to the persistence of these issues. The bipartisan amendment was introduced in the Senate Finance Committee by Isakson and co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.
On June 8, 2015, a settlement was reached between the United States and South Africa after negotiations in Paris led by the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the Department of State, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard and trade experts from industry. The agreement to drop anti-dumping duties and establish a quota was welcome news for the entire U.S. poultry industry, including the large poultry operations in the Senators’ home states – Georgia and Delaware.
Since the settlement was reached, South Africa has been slow to fulfill the obligations agreed to in Paris, including the commitment to resolve sanitary barriers to poultry hindering the successful implementation of the agreement.
In September, Senators Coons and Isakson called on President Zuma to act quickly to address the unresolved issues in the agreement, and in November, President Obama issued a 60-day notice of his intent to suspend AGOA benefits for South Africa's agricultural products if South Africa continued to fail to eliminate trade barriers to U.S. poultry, beef, and pork. That notice expired on January 4, 2016.