SA, US sign poultry protocol

Pretoria: South Africa and the United States have signed a poultry veterinary trade protocol.

According to a joint statement issued by the Departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Trade and Industry the “Protocol for Poultry Meat and Day-Old Chicks” was signed on 13 November.

The agreement will allow for the import of United States’ bone-in-chicken portions.

In June, South Africa and the United States agreed on an annual quota of 65 000 tonnes of US chicken to be imported into South Africa. The countries had been at loggerheads over the inclusion of US chicken imports into the South African market.

This follows several months of technical discussions between South African and US veterinary experts.

“The United States and South African veterinary authorities have been negotiating a Poultry HPAI Trade Protocol in the event of any new outbreaks of Avian flu (HPAI) in the United States to secure the continued exports of poultry from those areas in the US that are not affected by Avian flu,” said the departments on Monday.

Almost 20 states in the US experienced outbreaks of Avian Flu this year.

Negotiating an appropriate trade protocol and health certificate that both secures market access for the US and also ensures safety for animal and human health was a challenging task for the veterinarians from both the United States and South Africa.

The departments said the agreement signals another significant milestone in the process of securing the African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) for South African exporters into the US market.

AGOA is a preferential agreement that has been in place since 2000 between the US and Sub Saharan African countries.

Earlier this month, the United States issued a notice saying that it plans to suspend trade benefits on agricultural goods from South Africa under AGOA within a period of 60 days.

The departments said AGOA has contributed significantly towards building a mutually beneficial partnership between the two countries.

“South Africa is a vital part of the regional integration and development process underway in Africa and removing South Africa from AGOA would substantially diminish the significance of AGOA for sub-Saharan Africa and the United States.”

The departments added that the breakthrough made at the meeting in Paris on 6 and 7 June on the poultry issue and the progress made on the issues related to poultry, beef and pork offer significant opportunities for the US and South Africa to increase their trade in agriculture.

The two departments said South Africa is a relatively open economy and that trade and investment relations between South Africa and the United States have continued to grow and deepen during the period under AGOA.

“South Africa meets all the eligibility criteria to remain a beneficiary of AGOA for the next 10 years,” said the departments.

US President Barack Obama signed the AGOA Extension & Enhancement Act (AEEA) of 2015 into law on 29 June.

However, the US insisted that some issues of interest to them such as poultry, pork and beef needed to be resolved by South Africa to allow it to be eligible.

South Africa, said the departments, remains on track to finalise outstanding issues by 31 December

SOURCE:SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICAL NEWS