Over 15 years after trade dispute between South Africa and the U.S leading to the banning of the sale of U.S poultry, pork and beef, report reaching us says the ban has been revoked as trade in these items has resumed throughout the country.
According to the U.S Trade Representative Michael Froman who confirmed the resumption of sales, said if sustained, South African sales would a key step towards President Barack Obama lifting his threat of suspending South Africa’s benefits under a U.S. – Africa free trade deal.
“We’re comfortable that South Africa has met the agreed-upon benchmarks, we’re going to continue to monitor the situation as poultry, beef and pork make their way into the market. The president will make a determination on the revocation of his suspension order. We expect that decision to be forthcoming,” Froman told reporters on a conference call.
According to CNBC, Froman pointed out that the first shipments of U.S. chicken cleared South African customs over the weekend under an agreement signed in January. With this deal, the U.S poultry, beef and pork exports would increase by $160 million a year, supporting tens of thousands of jobs in states such as Delaware and Georgia.
“This is a great day for the chicken farmers of America,” said U.S. Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat whose small state produces more than $4.6 billion worth of chicken per year, employing over 14,000 people.
Fifteen years ago, South Africa prohibited the imports of U.S. chicken over various sanitary restrictions. This restriction was made following the raised concerns about a major outbreak of avian flu in the United States that killed nearly 50 million birds last year.
But the U.S. officials denied any health risks posed by American chicken and argued that South Africa’s restrictions on U.S. beef, pork and poultry imports was a violation of terms of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a free trade deal aimed at boosting African exports to the United States.
The U.S president, Obama also reacted to the South African restriction by threatening to revoke the duty-free status of South Africa exports under AGOA on March 15 until the dispute was resolved and the South African officials estimated that if SA is excluded from the AGOA, it would impose additional costs of up to $7 million on the $176 million in agricultural products it sold the United States in 2014, including oranges, macadamia nuts and wine.