Delaware, Georgia Senators applaud Obama Administration’s actions to hold South Africa accountable for failure to resume import of U.S. poultry

President Obama intends to suspend duty-free treatment of all AGOA-eligible agricultural goods from South Africa

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) released the following statement after President Obama announced that he is issuing a 60-day notice to Congress of his intent to suspend certain trade benefits for South Africa under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) after South Africa failed to eliminate long-standing barriers to U.S. poultry, pork, and beef imports.  Specifically, South Africa failed to meet a key deadline on October 15th to resume imports of U.S. poultry. As a result, the Administration will suspend duty-free treatment of all AGOA-eligible agricultural goods from South Africa. This includes citrus products, wine, and macadamia nuts, among other agricultural goods.

The President’s announcement comes after the completion of an out-of-cycle review of South Africa’s AGOA eligibility. Senators Isakson and Coons secured language in this year’s AGOA reauthorization requiring this review after pressuring the South African government for nearly a year to end the anti-dumping duties on U.S. poultry. The bipartisan amendment was introduced by Isakson and co-sponsored by Carper and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).

“We applaud the Obama Administration for holding South Africa accountable for failing to eliminate unwarranted barriers to exports of American poultry, as they agreed to do earlier this year,” said the Senators.  “It is unfortunate that this action must be taken, but South Africa has repeatedly failed to implement the deal reached this summer and missed a key deadline last month to finalize the trade protocol and health certificate for U.S. poultry. South Africa does not deserve to receive benefits under AGOA as long as they refuse to drop unfair trade policies that have effectively slammed the door on American chicken imports for over a decade. There is still time to address these issues, and we hope the President’s action today spurs South Africa to open their market to American poultry immediately.”

On June 8, 2015, a settlement was reached in the longstanding poultry dispute between the United States and South Africa, after negotiations in Paris led by the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the Department of State, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard and trade experts from industry. The agreement was welcome news for the entire U.S. poultry industry, including the large poultry operations in the Senators’ home states – Georgia and Delaware. 

Since the settlement was reached, South Africa has been slow to fulfill the obligations agreed to in Paris, including the commitment to resolve sanitary barriers to poultry hindering the successful implementation of the agreement. In September, Senators Coons and Isakson called on President Zuma to act quickly to address the unresolved issues in the agreement. South Africa agreed to finalize both a trade protocol for avian influenza and a health certificate for U.S. poultry by October 15th. Despite assurances by high-ranking South African officials that those issues would be resolved by the deadline, they remain unresolved. Important differences remain on the health certificate and trade protocol.

Senators Coons and Isakson are the co-chairs of the Senate Chicken Caucus, of which Carper and Perdue are members. Both Delaware and Georgia have large poultry industries and are major exporters of poultry. The poultry industry annually contributes over $15.1 billion to the Georgia economy. Delaware’s poultry industry supports more than 14,000 jobs and contributes more than $4.6 billion to the state’s economy, according to the National Chicken Council.