Tshepiso Mokhema

South Africa has imposed anti-dumping duties against imports of chicken pieces from Germany, the Netherlands and the UK after domestic producers claimed the countries were breaching trade regulations.

The International Trade Administration Commission of SA (Itac) said on Friday that it had imposed provisional duties ranging from 22 percent to 73 percent on frozen bone-in portions from these countries.

The move follows an application by the SA Poultry Association in October last year. Exports from the EU nations covered by the steps amounted to dumping under World Trade Organisation standards and rules, Kevin Lovell, the head of the association, said. “This is not a punishment at all, it’s to ensure rules are followed.”

In September last year, the government increased tariffs on imports of whole birds to 82 percent, the maximum allowed, from 27 percent. Exports from EU countries, which usually enjoy favoured-nation status, were excluded at the time.

The anti-dumping investigation could take up to 12 months, after which the trade minister would announce a final ruling on Friday’s steps, Itac said.

“This does not mean they are not allowed to import here, just that it will be a little more expensive,” Lovell said.

The duties would expire on January 2 next year, Itac said.

The Association of Meat Importers and Exporters, a local lobby group, said it expected the steps to raise chicken prices.

The new duties were high, especially after local producers benefited from a drop in the price of maize fed to poultry, association chief executiveDavid Wolpert said. He estimated that the lower maize price had already saved local suppliers $650 million (R7 billion).

Itac said it had considered responses and comments received from the parties involved and “made a preliminary determination that frozen bone-in portions of chicken, originating in or imported from Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, were being dumped and causing injury to the domestic industry”.

The sides will have another chance to present their case before a final ruling. – Bloomberg