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Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

I refer to the detailed and fascinating letter “Getting to bottom of chicken wars” (October 19) by David Wolpert.

As many readers would know, these wars have been raging in SA for many years with local poultry barons turning to the government virtually annually seeking higher import tariffs on various poultry imports. These tariffs vary in nature depending on which type of action appears most likely to succeed at the time.

SA has had anti-dumping, safeguard, and basic tariff increase applications, resulting in higher costs of imported poultry followed by increases to local poultry prices shortly  thereafter, totally contradicting previous assurances that this would not happen. One application was referred to the World Trade Organization and SA withdrew in failure, but all others have had a measure of success as far as I am aware. 

I doubt whether other independent arbiters across the globe would have even launched any investigation because as Wolpert eloquently points out, the products may well compete in the market place but they are vastly different. Anybody who doubts this statement should visit their neighbourhood supermarket and examine the products to see how unalike they are. 

Imported bone in chicken cuts may provide local consumers the price benefits of dumping as asserted, which hardly seems a problem to anybody but local poultry. However, in order for a dumping investigation to be launched, the complainants must prove material injury suffered. This is simply not possible in the case of individually quick frozen poultry, a totally distinct product, with a 65%-70% share of local sales.

The volumes of local bone in cuts sold separately are too low for material injury to even be a factor.  

Simply put, a fairly adjudicated finding of dumping injury related to imported bone in chicken is arguably not feasible yet this has been happening for years. The International Trade Administration Commission of SA (ITAC) has always enthusiastically pursued these cases.  

ITAC obviously knows something about imported bone in chicken and local individually quick frozen chicken packs with 15% injected water, that we don’t. We know SA’s localisation drive is enthusiastically driven from the top, but surely we’ve had more than enough of politically driven poultry import persecution. 

Hans Friedrich
Morningside, Sandton


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