South Africa indicates readiness to resolve farm export impasse with U.S.

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Cape Town  –  South African Government on Friday warned that the U.S. could revoke duty-free status for South African agricultural goods, following a drawn-out dispute over U.S. chicken and meat exports.

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South Africa’s Trade Minister Rob Davies made this known at a news briefing in Cape Town.

U.S. President Barack Obama had earlier said that South Africa Pretoria was imposing several barriers to U.S. trade and he would revoke duty-free status for South African agricultural goods in 60 days under a programme set up to help African exporters.

“We take the letter seriously as a warning that if we don’t conclude, this will happen.

“We also believe that we are pretty close to resolving the sanitary matters that were outstanding,” Davies said.

The notification provides a 60 day period before the duty-free quota-free suspension of South Africa’s agricultural exports to the USA is actually implemented.

It was gathered that that if the South African government manages to resolve outstanding animal health issues for poultry, pork, and beef before the 60 days lapse, there may still be an opportunity for this suspension to be withdrawn.

Dr John Purchase, CEO of Agbiz, said given this possibility, we take note of the acknowledgement by President Obama of South Africa’s willingness to resolve the outstanding issues.

“Agbiz calls on government to push beyond current efforts to ensure that the impending suspension of South Africa’s duty-free quota-free access of agricultural products is avoided.

Alternatively government needs to be transparent in its dealings with the private sector and explain the legitimate reasons for the impasse, if there are any,” Agbiz, said.

Davies, however, said that good progress was being made in negotiations on the issue and that government was confident that an agreement was imminent. (Reuters/NAN)

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