WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. chicken industry applauds an announcement today by Office of the U.S. Trade Representative that the United States and South Africa have reached a definitive agreement to allow U.S. chicken producers to resume exports of U.S. chicken parts to South Africa.
The agreement between the two governments effectively finalizes a pact negotiated last June between the U.S. and South African industries to reopen the South African market to bone-in U.S. chicken parts, which have been excluded since 2000.
“We’re pleased that this process has reached a successful conclusion and that U.S. chicken can again be shipped to South Africa,” said Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) and National Chicken Council (NCC) President Mike Brown. USAPEEC and NCC negotiated an agreement with the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) to end the South African chicken embargo in Paris last June, which required the support and approval of the respective governments.
“Our industry appreciates the strong support of the Obama administration on this issue, particularly U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and his team of negotiators and U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard, who we look forward to working with every step of the way to assure that meaningful trade of our products takes place.
“We cannot go without recognizing the tireless efforts of members of the U.S. Senate ‘Chicken Caucus’ for seeing this process through,” Sumner and Brown said. “We especially thank the leaders of the caucus, Senators Chris Coons of Delaware and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, for their exemplary work in helping to reopen this important market for our products.
“Although success will ultimately be realized when U.S. chicken is imported into South Africa, today’s announcement is a positive step to bringing increased economic benefits to U.S. chicken farmers and companies across the country,” Sumner and Brown continued. “But the real winners are South African consumers, who will now be afforded even more options when it comes to wholesome protein sources.”
Gaspard, who took part in the Paris negotiations between USAPEEC, NCC and SAPA, repeatedly and forcefully elevated the issue of market access for U.S. chicken to his counterparts in South Africa. Meanwhile, Coons and Isakson led an effort in the Senate to withhold preferential trade benefits from South Africa under the African Growth and Opportunity Act unless South Africa reopened its market to U.S. chicken.
Under the agreement, the U.S. is granted an annual quota of 65,000 metric tons of chicken that will be increased incrementally each year. South Africa also agreed to a policy of regionalization in the event of future detections of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the U.S. Previously, if HPAI were detected in the U.S., South Africa would impose a nationwide import ban on poultry. Under the new agreement, bans would be imposed only on individual states affected by the virus.