South African government has been asked to arbitrate in the brewing tariff battle between local poultry producers and importers by the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AMIE)

The Association says: “the right of South Africans to access a prime source of dietary protein must outweigh the factional interests of sectors of the poultry producing industry.”

Paul Matthew, Chief Executive Officer of AMIE implored government to keep poultry prices in reach for all South Africans

In addition, AMIE wants authorities to provide leadership which brings together all stakeholders around the table to discuss a more constructive way forward for the industry, instead of enacting punitive measures against one section of the sector.

The calls come after South African Poultry Association (SAPA) recently claimed that they were in discussions with government regarding policy issues on imports.

Matthew said omitting AMIE would invalidate any talks, increase the divisions between the parties and place many consumers at risk of losing access to a staple source of protein.

“AMIE in the interests of breaking through sectarian interests that are of no benefit to the consumer and the economy has initiated an independent study of the poultry industry and its markets. We are prepared to make this available to the government.

SAPA has aggressively lobbied the Department of Trade and Industry and the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC) to approve tariff increases that will see a surge from 37 percent to 82 percent ad valorem for bone-in cuts of chicken.

In addition, a massive jump from 12 percent to 82 percent ad valorem for boneless cuts of chicken while AMIE in its response has pointed out that it appears that no attention is being paid to the facts that granting SAPAs request would be entrenching a monopoly for five huge producers who were booming, with at least one reporting profits of more than R1,4bn and others showing profits that were much higher than a few years ago.

“AMIE believes that a one-sided view driven by a paid lobbyist with no experience of the chicken industry is not giving consideration to all the issues that could see consumers giving up access to affordable protein,” Matthews said.