South Africa’s Meat Importers and Exporters Association (Amie) is calling for a complete review of import tariffs on poultry, arguing that tariffs are just another form of tax that consumers cannot afford.

This is because the South African Reserve Bank’s (Sarb) October Monetary Policy Review report found that tariffs on frozen whole chicken and bone-in chicken more than tripled from 27% to 82% between 2013 and 2022 and 18% to 62% respectively, over the past decade.

Then further anti-dumping tariffs and safeguards where imposed and recently suspended for 12 months, but the 82% and 62% still remain.

This could be anything from R24/kg more for an imported whole chicken to R14/kg for an imported leg quarter in additional taxes. These higher landed costs lowered imports of frozen chicken in favour of local products, the report said.

“Tariffs on poultry products has been increasing for years even though chicken is the main source of meat protein for most low-income households in South Africa,” the report said.

“Given the weak economy and high inflationary environment, and the fact that the SARB believes that the country has not yet seen a peak in inflation, it is essential that the government do everything it can to ensure that this critical source of protein remains within reach of the most vulnerable in our society,” says Amie CEO Paul Matthew.

“It is time that the government takes a long, hard look at its trade policy, which seems to be protecting large domestic manufacturers at the expense of consumers,” he adds.

The South African poultry is extremely concentrated with only a handful of companies occupying majority of the market share.

Demand for chicken has increased over the years, but local production remains limited, Matthews said. He said imported poultry, currently only accounts for less than 10% of total consumption if you exclude mechanically deboned meat (MDM), which is important for the production of processed meat products and not produced locally.

What do you think the government should do? Please comment.

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Source: Business Day, Daily Maverick, Business Tech.

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