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Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Many high-quality contributions are appearing regularly in Business Day relating to the heavily debated conflict over chicken imports, a long-standing battle arguably containing more tariff investigations than any other alleged dumping claims worldwide.

Francois Baird, founder of FairPlay, an organisation that under the guise of promoting fair trade expends an inordinate amount of time trashing chicken imports and is financed by the SA Poultry Association, responded as usual with his trademark personal attacks. However, his letter was short on factual accuracy, as pointed out by other contributors (“Dumping is the issue”, October 21). 

In truth, his points were all but destroyed by them. There is nothing for David Wolpert, his target this time, to answer. Where are all the promised new jobs in chicken, concrete, steel, furniture and sugar? There aren’t any, as they are all struggling to retain existing jobs. Why have certain local poultry leaders complained of the onerous demands their magic master plan is making on them?

Has Baird not been informed? Where is all the promised growth in poultry exports given that this is an important pillar in the much-lauded master plan? Don’t hold your breath on this one. SA has major certification compliance problems. Run the numbers and examine experiences elsewhere — destroying or curtailing imports will cause more damage to local poultry and jobs than any benefits, especially when they have to spend billions to ramp up production so they can donate a big chunk of their profits to previously disadvantaged people.

I assume Baird does know of this. Importers and exporters are being mugged in broad daylight. They should speak more and fight less. SA’s obsession with the destruction of poultry imports is surely seen as bordering on manic by our trading partners — all the while harshly and cruelly punishing our own impoverished consumers via the resulting collateral damage.  

The point has forcefully been made that no causal relationships exist between imported bone-in chicken and any possible injury to local brined individual quick-freezing (IQF) packs, as they are dissimilar products bearing in mind that IQF mixed portions dominate local sales, with stand-alone bone-in products too limited in volume to make a difference.

Both causal relationships and material injury to local products are essential requirements for successful antidumping applications. So even if chicken dumping is taking place, without compliance with the injury and causal requirements of antidumping regulations the imposition of dumping duties past and present is questionable.

This tells the story that the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac), the final arbiter of dumping claims, which conveniently reports to trade, industry & competition minister Ebrahim Patel (the architect of localisation policies based upon master plans with built-in punitive tariffs aimed at the real enemy — imports) may just be extending their powers a little too far.

Itac should be reminded that its mandate is to promote fair trade, not local trade. It would be interesting to see the merits and legality of Itac’s power wielding tested at the World Trade Organization (WTO), or even in our own high court. The last time Brics partner Brazil was accused of chicken dumping by SA it took huge offence and dragged us to the WTO, where our flawed application was found embarrassingly wanting.

Will history repeat itself? It should.  

Anthony Peerie
Sandringham

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