The DA will be meeting with Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies to persuade him not to impose damaging tariffs on chicken imports, as this will end up hurting South Africa's poor and least advantaged citizens the most.
The Minister's plan to slap tariffs on certain categories of chicken imports, specifically those that come from our fellow BRICS country Brazil, is a misguided attempt to protect local producers who wrongly claim that the imported products threaten their business.
Statistics provided by SARS show that poultry imports equate to only 10% of local production. Furthermore, the same statistics reveal that poultry imports are on the decline. Chicken imports are therefore hardly a credible threat to local producers.
The truth is that 30%-35% of our chicken imports arrive as a paste from Brazil and go straight to local manufacturers of affordable and protein-rich foods such as polony and sausages. South African producers do not make the paste. There is no competition here at all.
At present, chicken paste imports are tariff free. Any action to impose tariffs will simply drive the price of polony and sausages up, which will impact poor South Africans the most.
The remaining 65%-70% of imported chicken consists of leg quarters imported from the European Union. It is totally misleading to call these 'cheap imports' because the pieces arrive here at a higher price than the local product. Moreover, these imported products do not contain the high quantities of brine that some South African companies pump into the frozen chicken pieces to bulk up the weight. The appropriate term for this practice is cheating, and cheating the poor at that.
I will be sure to raise this matter with Minister Davies during our meeting, and will make every effort to ensure that he abandons any plans to increase tariffs on chicken imports. Doing so would just place an additional burden on many South Africans who are already struggling to put food on the table.
Wilmot James, DA Federal Chairperson