News Releases

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Senators Isakson, Coons to Trade Rep: South Africa Must Drop its Duties on U.S. Chicken

"If this situation is not resolved... we will need to consider strengthening AGOA to prevent South Africa from benefitting from duty preferences"

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Chris Coons, D-Del., — two of the Senate’s leading experts on Africa — wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman on Tuesday night to underscore their opposition to illegal anti-dumping duties imposed by South Africa on American chicken. The senators repeated their warning that if South Africa’s duties were not dropped before the Senate considers the reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) this spring, they would work to prevent South Africa from continuing to enjoy the significant trade benefits afforded by the law.

“South Africa levied antidumping duties on U.S. poultry fourteen years ago, effectively blocking our companies from accessing the market,” the senators wrote. “In 2013, the WTO ruled against China in an almost identical system of antidumping duties imposed on U.S. poultry. There is now precedent within the WTO that South Africa’s antidumping duties do not conform with international trade regulations. However, despite repeated attempts by the U.S. government and U.S. poultry industry to remove these duties, they have remained in place.”

“South Africa, and other nations who benefit from trade preferences with the United States under AGOA, must address trade barriers in their own nations that limit or block U.S. exports,” the senators continued in their Jan. 27, 2015 letter to Ambassador Froman. “If this situation is not resolved before we conclude the legislative process to reauthorize AGOA, we will need to consider strengthening AGOA to prevent South Africa from benefitting from duty preferences while continuing to discriminate against U.S. goods, specifically poultry.”

The African Growth and Opportunity Act has served as the cornerstone of the U.S. commercial relationship with Africa since its enactment in 2000, successfully expanding U.S. trade with African countries that show a commitment to good governance and democratic principles. It has improved the trade environment both for U.S. and African businesses, and has spurred significant economic growth.

Senator Coons chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs in the last Congress. Senator Isakson is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over the AGOA reauthorization bill. The two co-founded the bipartisan Senate Chicken Caucus in 2013.

Full text of the letter is available below, and a PDF of the signed letter is available here.

January 27, 2015

 

The Honorable Michael Froman

Office of the United States Trade Representative

600 17th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20508

 

Dear Ambassador Froman,

We write to you to express our strong support for reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) this year. AGOA has served as the cornerstone of the U.S. commercial relationship with Africa since its enactment in 2000, successfully expanding U.S. trade with African countries that show a commitment to good governance and democratic principles. It has improved the trade environment both for U.S. and African businesses, and has spurred significant economic growth. However, we believe it needs to be carefully reviewed and modified to address numerous challenges and concerns.

One issue that is of great importance to both of us and our states is that of poultry trade.  The poultry industry is an incredibly important economic driver in our states and across the nation. The industry supports 1.8 million jobs and contributes nearly $470 billion to the national economy, making up roughly 3% of GDP.  Export markets, particularly for chicken, make up approximately 20% of total American production. 

As you may know, South Africa levied antidumping duties on U.S. poultry fourteen years ago, effectively blocking our companies from accessing the market.  In 2013, the WTO ruled against China in an almost identical system of antidumping duties imposed on U.S. poultry.  There is now precedent within the WTO that South Africa’s antidumping duties do not conform with international trade regulations.  However, despite repeated attempts by the U.S. government and U.S. poultry industry to remove these duties, they have remained in place, and duties have actually increased in recent years.

We have been closely following discussions regarding poultry trade and are concerned that following an initial meeting between the U.S. and South African poultry industries in September of last year, no progress has been made to address the issue.  We have reached out directly to President Zuma to express our concerns with the lack of progress and are eager to find a resolution.

To that end, we write to express our intent to address this issue in the reauthorization of AGOA.  South Africa, and other nations who benefit from trade preferences with the United States under AGOA must address trade barriers in their own nations that limit or block U.S. exports.  If this situation is not resolved before we conclude the legislative process to reauthorize AGOA, we will need to consider strengthening AGOA to prevent South Africa from benefitting from duty preferences while continuing to discriminate against U.S. goods, specifically poultry.

We look forward to working with you on this important matter.

Sincerely,

 

Johnny Isakson       

United States Senator   

 

Christopher A. Coons                         

United States Senator                                       

 

cc: Chairman Hatch

Ranking Member Wyden

Senate Finance Committee

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