Will South Africa continue to receive preferential trade benefits under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) even while the nation imposes anti-dumping duties on imports of U.S. chicken?

“Chicken Caucus” Senators representing Delaware and Georgia say ‘no.’

U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) warned South African President Jacob Zuma that continued refusal to eliminate unfair duties on U.S. poultry could jeopardize South Africa’s continued eligibility for trade benefits available under the AGOA in a letter sent December 9. Congress will consider reauthorization of AGOA in 2015.

But U.S. interests have said no before without backing it up with effective action. Will this time be different?

Coons is chairman of the African Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and is co-chairman with Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) of the so-called Senate “Chicken Caucus.” Both senators have been vocal opponents of South Africa’s anti-dumping duties on U.S. chicken parts, which the South African government imposed in 1999.


“As you know, Congress is in the process of considering reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA),” the senators wrote. “We urge you to ensure that conversations continue to make progress towards eliminating the antidumping duties on U.S. poultry and that this issue is resolved before Congress takes up AGOA reauthorization, which could be early [in 2015]. We will need to reconsider the extension of duty preferences under AGOA for South Africa if this situation is not resolved.”

“I will do everything in my power to make sure (the South Africans) do not derive any benefits from AGOA if they do not end the illegal anti-dumping duties against U.S. chicken,” Coons told USA Poultry & Egg Export Council members gathered in Washington D.C. for the organization’s annual Winter Meeting.

The United States has worked directly with the government of South Africa for years in attempt to remove the duties levied on U.S. poultry. In 2013, the World Trade Organization ruled against an almost identical system of duties imposed on American chicken by China, deeming it a violation of global trade rules.