"Our industry believes that the United States should, where practical and sensible, aid the less developed countries of the world in improving their economies and the standard of living for their citizens," National Chicken Council Senior Vice President Bill Roenigk said January 14 on behalf of the National Chicken Council (NCC) and USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) in testimony before the U.S. International Trade Commission at a hearing on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA will be up for congressional approval this legislative session.
"However," Roenigk continued, "we believe that developing countries receiving aid or special preferences also have their responsibilities. Chief among those are the obligations to treat all their citizens fairly and see that trade preferences benefit the greater good, not just the advantaged few; and to become good world citizens and to conduct themselves in accordance with the rule of law."
In 2000, the same year that the United States extended special duty preferences to many of the Republic of South Africa's exports under AGOA, South Africa imposed antidumping duties on U.S. poultry. Prior to 2000, the U.S. industry enjoyed a modest but respectable export market of approximately 55,000 metric tons annually. Since 2000, the U.S. poultry has been totally shut out of the South African market.
The dumping theory used by South Africa in that case - so-called "weighted average cost of production" - is both economically irrational and inconsistent with international trade rules. Recently, a WTO dispute panel ruled against China, and for the U.S. and the U.S. poultry industry, in a virtually identical case.
"We are here today to say that, unless the Republic of South Africa changes its policies, lifts the imposition of dumping duties from our products and allows trade to resume fairly and without restraint, NCC, USAPEEC and other members of the U.S. poultry industry will strongly oppose any further extension of AGOA preferences to the Republic of South Africa," Roenigk said. "We will also oppose extension of AGOA to any other African countries that impose similarly unfair and unjustifiable restrictions on our imports.
"We are, very frankly, looking for a reason to support AGOA extension, and hope that South Africa will take the necessary steps to justify our continued support."