LETTER: Who will Ebrahim Patel blame when chicken prices hit the roof?
Since my last letter to the editor (“Chicken dumping really just a red herring”, March 30) protectionist minister Ebrahim Patel has asked the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) to review poultry tariffs with the aim of including antidumping duties.
Of great relevance is the fact that poultry tariffs were increased by huge margins in 2020, resulting in a massive drop in imports. Part of this could be Covid-related, but the jury is still out. In addition, Itac is investigating dumping claims against five countries. This investigation likely has about 16 more months to run. Taken together with other industries, we are seeing tariff diktat gone mad, in true megalomaniacal fashion. This is the longest-running farce in the history of taxpayer-funded tariffs on basic foods.
It’s common knowledge that poultry dumping has occurred, with resultant tariffs borne by the consumer and limited damage to the local poultry industry. Limited damage, despite vociferous claims to the contrary, is conclusively proved by the fact that what was a relatively small local industry 20 years ago is now a multibillion-rand industry processing 1-billion chickens a year and providing employment to tens of thousands of people. It supplies about 2-million tonnes of poultry into the market annually.
Anybody who has seen publicly available information relating to the intermittent problems faced by local poultry producers can easily see that their material injuries have been caused almost entirely by high feed costs, as well as the economic difficulties experienced in SA — including the devastating effects of Covid-19. Their own financials confirm this.
Even Patel would know this. He has nearly devastated the steel industry. Heaven knows who he will blame when chicken prices hit the roof.
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