NCC President Mike Brown delivered testimony this morning at a hearing held by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) as part of a congressionally mandated review of whether South Africa should be suspended from the recently renewed African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) because of agricultural market access barriers. Brown delivered his remarks on behalf of NCC and USAPEEC.
Two members of Congress – Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Senator Chris Coons of Delaware – have been in the forefront on this issue, and their efforts resulted in an amendment to AGOA’s renewal that requires this out-of-cycle review of South Africa. The amendment passed the Senate Finance Committee unanimously in late April.
“Congress has now demanded that South Africa change its ways and treat U.S. products fairly, most especially U.S. chicken,” Brown said in his testimony. “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. We want to express the profound thanks of our industry members to these two senators for their commitment to U.S. producers and exporters, and to the principles of fair trade.”
Brown also took the opportunity to thank USTR, and our Ambassador to South Africa, the Honorable Patrick Gaspard and the fine team from his Embassy, for working with us to try to find a way forward. “With their help, we were able to reach an agreement in principle with the South African industry and government to reopen trade during meetings in Paris in early June,” Brown said.
As has been publically announced by its Trade Minister, South Africa has agreed to an annual antidumping duty-free quota of 65,000 MT, that also allows for future growth .
Brown stressed at the hearing two key points:
- The Ball is in South Africa’s Court. “It is the South African poultry industry and the South African government that must take the actions necessary to implement the agreement that we achieved in Paris. The U.S. industry is prepared to support those efforts and to participate to make sure the terms and conditions of quota administration are fair and effective; but the onus for eliminating the duties on the agreed 65,000 MT, for developing quota administration rules, and for establishing conducive sanitary rules are on South Africa;” and,
- There is no Success without Actual U.S. Imports. “It is not enough to have reached an agreement in principle in Paris, or to initiate various legal processes in South Africa. 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.”
Brown concluded, “While Congress has now conditionally extended AGOA benefits to South Africa, its expectations are clear: South Africa must open its markets to U.S. poultry or lose those benefits. South Africa is on the clock…we are watching and so is Congress.”
Brown’s full testimony as submitted to USTR can be read here.