South Africa suspends chicken tariffs to ease price pressures

accreditationMonique Vanek

South Africa has halted tariffs on poultry for 12 months as part of measures to ease food inflation.

The government suspended duties on imports of the protein from Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Spain because of the impact they may have on the price, according to a gazette published Monday. Chicken is one of the more affordable protein sources in South Africa.

The annual inflation rate reached 7.4% in June, the highest level since the global financial crisis, with food prices rising 9%. The price of 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of frozen chicken pieces increased almost 14% in June from a year earlier to R383.53, according to the Household Affordability Index compiled by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group, a prominent anti-poverty organisation.

The South African Association of Meat Importers and Exporters, which called on the government in April to consider a moratorium on tariffs on imported chicken to help curb inflation, said the decision would help consumers.

“Chicken is the most affordable, and therefore vital source of protein for South African consumers, especially those living below the poverty line,” Paul Matthew, chief executive officer of AMIE, said in an emailed statement.

Mexico and South Korea have also removed import tariffs on poultry to contain inflation in recent months. The US is also considering lifting tariffs on various goods and last month said it would not impose any on Russian and Trinidadian imports of urea ammonium nitrate, which is used in liquid fertilisers.

Tariffs are an important component of South Africa’s so-called “master plan” to protect local poultry producers from a flood of cheap imports and save jobs in an industry that employs about 100,000 people.

The government drew ire from trading partners such as the US in March 2020, when it raised duties on frozen bone-in and boneless chicken pieces to 62% and 42% respectively. It also imposed provisional anti-dumping levies of as much as 265% on countries including Brazil in December.

South Africa suspends chicken tariffs to ease price pressures | Fin24 (news24.com)