Washington - The United States moved to suspend trade benefits for South African farm products on Thursday, escalating a drawn-out dispute over US chicken and meat exports.
US President Barack Obama said he planned to revoke duty-free status for South African agricultural goods in 60 days under a programme set up to help African exporters.
“I am taking this step because South Africa continues to impose several longstanding barriers to US trade, including barriers affecting certain US agricultural exports,” he said in a letter to Congress.
US Trade Representative Michael Froman said South Africa could still avoid the suspension, which could cost it up to $7 million in lost benefits, if it met benchmarks to eliminate barriers to US poultry, pork, and beef.
South Africa has banned US poultry imports since last December after an outbreak of bird flu. The measure came on top of 15 years of punitive import duties on some US chicken products.