Chicken on display for sale in a local supermarket. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Johannesburg - The South African government said on Thursday that it was pleased to announce that it has concluded the negotiations on poultry, beef and pork with the United States.

The so-called “three meats” deal brings to a close several months of discussions with the United States on the terms required to secure its position in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for the next 10 years.

“On Friday, the first shipment of poultry [frozen chicken legs] arrived at the Port of Durban and was cleared by the Port Health Authorities, thus allowing the products to be placed on South Africa's retail shelves before the deadline of March 15. This is the final benchmark set by President Obama,” said the Department of Trade and Industry.

“The US Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman has communicated his satisfaction to the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies. Froman has indicated that he will recommend that President Obama lift the threat of suspension of South Africa's agricultural concessions under AGOA.”

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The department said Davies wishes to “thank all the South African stakeholders” in the poultry, beef and pork sectors, the AGOA agriculture beneficiaries, in the wine, macadamia nuts, citrus sectors, and the public at large for their patience and understanding during a very complex negotiation.

AGOA is a preferential trade arrangement that creates opportunities for many sectors in South Africa to access the United States market.

South Africa and the United States have already begun to work together to facilitate access to the import quota on chicken legs to newly emerging business from previously disadvantaged communities.

Davies, however, said the process of discussing market access for SA products to the US was continuing.

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“In addition, discussions are under way to facilitate exports of SA products to the US in a number of products including chicken breast, ostrich meat, avocados and mangoes,” said Davies.

He added progress had already been registered with SA litchi producers accessing the US market at the beginning of 2016.

“The understandings reached will also create new opportunities to deepen the trade and investment relation between the US, South Africa and the African Continent as a whole,” said the minister.