The National Chicken Council is asking the federal government to insist on easing restrictions on poultry products as conditions for renewing a South Africa trade pact and entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The organization asserts that “dumping duties” — tariffs placed on American chicken the South African government believes was being sold below market price — have cost the U.S. industry as much as $100 million in lost revenues since 2000, spokesman Tom Super said.
The group notes that dumping duties were recently found by the World Trade Organization to be unfair, as a dispute panel ruled against China and for the U.S. poultry industry in a virtually identical case.
“Our industry believes that the United States should … aid the less developed countries of the world in improving their economies and the standard of living for their citizens,” NCC senior vice president and chief economist Bill Roenigk told the U.S. International Trade Commission earlier this month.
“However, we believe that developing countries receiving aid or special preferences also have their responsibilities,” he said. “Chief among those are the obligations to treat all their citizens fairly and see that trade preferences benefit the greater good, not just the advantaged few, and to become good world citizens and to conduct themselves in accordance with the rule of law.”
U.S. trade negotiators have discussed the antidumping duties with South African representatives and are working with them to “enhance two-way trade,” said Carol Guthrie, spokeswoman for U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.
South Africa has been using the weighted average cost of production to determine the value of chicken rather than a market-determined cost methodology accepted in international trade, Super explained. As with beef, all parts of a chicken don’t bring back the same value, he said.
The duties have been in place since the U.S. extended special duty preferences to many of South Africa’s exports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act in 2000, the NCC explained in a news release. The U.S. industry was sending about 55,000 metric tons annually to South Africa before then but has been shut out of the market since the deal was finalized, the organization stated.
“I hope if they do renew it that U.S. poultry’s concerns are strongly considered and taken into account,” Super said. “If they are not, we will urge our members of Congress to vote ‘no’ because we’ve been unfairly shut out of this market for some time now.”
The NCC’s plea comes as 11 U.S. senators led by Delaware Democrat Chris Coons and Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson sent a letter urging Froman to open markets to chicken as part of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. American poultry products face restrictions and barriers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, the chicken council noted.
“The TPP represents a significant opportunity to expand U.S. chicken exports and bring increased economic benefits to chicken growers and companies across the country,” the senators wrote. “Your ongoing commitment to seek the highest possible standard agreement is appreciated.”
Guthrie said the U.S. is “committed to achieving a comprehensive and ambitious outcome” for the TPP, including on poultry products.
“We are actively engaging our TPP partners to reach satisfactory outcomes” on a range of tariffs and other barriers, she said in an email.
Bill Roenigk testimony on Africa trade deal: http://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/poultry-industry-questions-extension-african-trade-act/
U.S. senators’ letter on TPP: http://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/us-senators-urge-fair-trade-open-markets-us-chicken-tpp-talks/