News Releases

Monday, February 29, 2016

Isakson, Coons Announce Arrival of First U.S. Poultry to South Africa in 15 Years

Senators fought to end 15-year South African ban on U.S. chicken imports; Poultry industry contributes $15.1 billion to Georgia's economy

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Chris Coons, D-Del., co-chairs of the Senate Chicken Caucus, today applauded the news that the first U.S. poultry in more than 15 years has arrived in South Africa. Today’s news is the outcome of a June 2015 agreement reached between the United States and South Africa that required South Africa to eliminate longstanding barriers to U.S. poultry imports.

 “We are thrilled that after more than 15 years of South Africa illegally blocking imports of U.S. poultry, chicken from Georgia, Delaware and states around the United States will finally reach the dinner tables of South Africans,” said Senators Isakson and Coons. “Today’s news is the result of years of hard work and negotiations led by our poultry producers and U.S. trade officials, and we are proud to have also played a part. This is a significant win for poultry farmers in Georgia and Delaware, and for South Africans who will now have access to our healthy, affordable, and high-quality poultry.” 

 See photos of U.S. poultry products arriving in South Africa (courtesy of the U.S. Chicken Council) here:

 Isakson and Coons have been pressuring the South African government for more than a year to end the anti-dumping duties and unfair food safety and health trade policies on U.S. poultry. The senators met on numerous occasions with South African President Jacob Zuma and other South African officials to discuss this issue over the last several years.

 They also secured language in last year’s reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, known as AGOA, to require an out-of-cycle review of South Africa's benefits due to the persistence of these issues. The bipartisan amendment was introduced in the Senate Finance Committee by Isakson and co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

 On June 8, 2015, a settlement was reached between the United States and South Africa after negotiations in Paris led by the United States Trade Representative, the Department of State, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard, and trade experts from the poultry industry.

 Since the settlement was reached, South Africa repeatedly failed to fulfill the obligations agreed upon in Paris. In response to the delays, Isakson and Coons called on President Zuma in September to act quickly to address the unresolved issues in the agreement. In November 2015, President Obama issued a 60-day notice of his intent to suspend AGOA benefits for South Africa's agricultural products if South Africa continued to fail to eliminate trade barriers to U.S. poultry, beef, and pork as a result of the out-of-cycle review. That notice expired on January 4, 2016, and shortly thereafter, South Africa announced it would comply with the terms of the settlement.

 Isakson and Coons are the co-chairs of the Senate Chicken Caucus, of which Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., and Senator Carper are also members. Both Georgia and Delaware 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.