Bird flu: Importers want to fire among role players

Henry

The association of meat importers and exporters (AMIE) made it clear on Tuesday that emergency measures must be introduced as soon as possible to counter the inevitable chicken shortages and price increases.

The association is particularly concerned that action is being taken far too slowly amid the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, issued a directive on 22 October for a temporary rebate on imported chicken products. The chicken industry and affected parties were given only two weeks to make submissions.

This unusually short opportunity for submissions is due to the fact that the South African poultry market is facing the largest bird flu outbreak ever, and that urgent measures are needed to protect consumers from shortages and price increases.

AMIE is now concerned that the process is being delayed by parties who oppose the rebate and have asked for a delay in submitting their submissions.

In its submission – which was submitted on time – AMIE included a 12-month reduction in import duty on frozen chicken on the bone (from 62% to 37%), boneless chicken (from 42% to 12%) and chicken offal, including carcasses, feet , heads and liver (up to 0%), recommended. The latter items are the products that low-income households in particular rely on the most.

“The sooner we start acting as if we are in a crisis, the sooner we can tackle the crisis – and we don’t see that attitude yet,” says Paul Matthew, CEO of AMIE.

The association is concerned about the apparent lack of urgency on the part of the relevant government departments responsible for the accelerated poultry import permits.

“We need an immediate and joint emergency response. It is clear that the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition was concerned enough about the effects of HPAI on food security to consider a rebate on import duty on an expedited basis.”

Matthew says things can’t be done simply like before. “All administrative measures related to permits, customs and port clearance must also be accelerated to get products to market quickly and responsibly. This is in the best interest of consumers.”