Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

David Wolpert’s outright rejection of the Poultry Master Plan raises questions about the commitment of the chicken importers represented by the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AMIE) (“Poultry master plan harms the industry and consumers”, October 7).

Wolpert is the previous CEO of AMIE; his successor, Paul Matthew, signed the master plan in November 2019, which Wolpert says is contrary to importers’ interests because it aims to reduce imports and their share of the SA chicken market.

Matthew signed on behalf of AMIE members and associate members, including large SA importers such as Merlog Foods, and major chicken exporters in Brazil, the US and Europe. They are all listed at the back of the master plan.

If Wolpert, who headed Amie for many years, believes importers will not profit from the master plan, then he may not be alone. Some may follow the lead of Matthew, who has since signing the master plan argued forcibly against localisation and import tariffs, both key aspects of the master plan.

The SA Poultry Association, which represents local producers, has voiced its full support for the master plan. It is time for AMIE to state unequivocally where it stands on behalf of importers and foreign producers. Its ally, the Emerging Black Importers and Exporters of SA, also a signatory to the master plan, has been unrepentant in its opposition to import tariffs.

Trade, industry and competition minister Ebrahim Patel, who is driving the master plan, has a right to know whether it still has the backing of chicken importers. Are chicken importers going to support plans to enlarge the local industry, contain imports and combat dumping and illegal trade such as efforts to reduce or evade import duties?

Where does the AMIE stand on transformation, an important issue on which it has been silent? Are importers going to profess support for the master plan while doing their best to frustrate its implementation? Did they sign with their fingers crossed?

Francois BairdFounder, FairPlay

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