U.S. negotiators have finally reached an agreement with the South African Government to allow the sale of U.S. poultry as well as beef and pork products in that country’s market. The first birds arrived in RSA earlier this month.
It was a bit of brinksmanship for South African negotiators in the face of POTUS’s move to bar all South African agricultural products, which experts say have accounted for 85,000 jobs in the citrus industry alone. According to the US Embassy in Pretoria: “In 2014, the US imported $55 million in fruits and vegetables, $51 million in wine and beer, and $48 million in tree nuts such as macadamias all duty free under AGOA. The US has identified $175 million in potential new agricultural exports from South Africa to the United States for citrus, avocados, lamb, and other products.”*
For more than a year, Congress, namely representatives from poultry states, called “foul” (sorry) when South Africa halted imports of chicken and turkey. The South Africans accused the United States birds of not meeting phytosanitary standards, among other ills. Last November, President Obama, using a new tit-for-tat move in the latest AGOA legislation, sent a 60-day notification to the House and Senate that he was moving to bar all agricultural products from South Africa, including citrus products, wine, and other foodstuffs.
South African agricultural and commercial groups in South Africa, namely WESTGRO, the Western Cape’s economic development agency, spoke out publicly for the South African Government to sort out this problem asap. To allow negotiations to continue, the White House delayed the ban until March 15. And then miracle upon miracles, the two sides reached an agreement.
U.S. chickens are now gracing the shelves of South Africa’s grocers and I’m able to continue enjoying Kanonkop Estate’s lovely Paul Sauer wine.
Politico, 3/1/16, Fire Up the Braai, U.S. Chicken Lands in South Africa, by Adam Behsudi
Daily Maverick, 11/9/15, Analysis: Playing Chicken on AGOA Speedway, by J. Brooks Spector