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US rebukes SA over trade rules

Constantly changing trade requirements imposed by SA on US goods undermine beneficial opportunities for agricultural producers and consumers in both countries, says a US government official. 

Speaking at a conference on Thursday, US Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden cited the avian flu issue as the latest excuse undermining efforts to move forward.

Last week sceptical US officials demanded further evidence that Pretoria was ready to lift disease-related bans on US poultry, beef and pork. This emerged at last Friday’s public hearing in the US on whether SA should continue to receive African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) trade privileges.

Citing outbreaks of avian flu in 20 US states, SA has prohibited imports of all US chicken, including the 65,000 tonnes of frozen bone-in portions it recently agreed to let in annually at normal tariff rates.

The US is demanding the ban be “regionalised” – limited to poultry from areas where outbreaks have occurred.

“It is almost like news, the latest reason, because when we talked poultry with trade officials in SA in 2013, we did not even have avian flu. Avian flu was a regional problem in the States,” Harden said. 

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