U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE.) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), co-chairs of the Senate Chicken Caucus, applauded the news that the first U.S. poultry in more than 15 years has arrived in South Africa.
This comes after a June 2015 agreement reached between the United States and South Africa that required an end to 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 Delaware, Georgia, and states around the United States will finally reach the dinner tables of South Africans,” a satement from the two senators noted. “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 Delaware and Georgia and for South Africans who will now have access to our healthy, affordable, and high-quality poultry.”
Sens. and Isakson and 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 African Growth and Opportunity Act reauthorization to require an out-of-cycle review of South Africa’s benefits due to the lack of a resolution of the claims. 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, the statement from the senators claimed.
In response to the delays, Senators Coons and Isakson 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.
Sens. Coons and Isakson are the co-chairs of the Senate Chicken Caucus, of which Senator Carper of Delaware and Senator Perdue of Georgia are also members.
Both Delaware and Georgia have large poultry industries and are major exporters of poultry. The poultry industry annually contributes more than $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.