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Obama announces suspension of SA’s Agoa trade benefits

The US president has officially set a new deadline for American poultry to be allowed into the country.

United States President Barack Obama. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - United States President Barack Obama has officially suspended South Africa's trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa) from 15 March, effectively setting a new deadline for American poultry to be allowed into the country.

The Agoa agreement was finalised by the Department of Trade and Industry last week and the South African Poultry Association says orders for imports have already been placed.

The association says the first orders are expected to arrive in South Africa within the next month.

The presidential proclamation was released by Obama's office yesterday, placing additional pressure on the state to lower health standards which were one of the main concerns during negotiations.

Head of the South African Poultry Association Kevin Lovell said, "There aren't any more proper hurdles to overcome. In fact when our government published the guidelines on 18 December our market was officially open to US poultry. The difficulty the US has is that they wanted us to weaken our animal health standards and they're now waiting to see."

The Trade and Industry Department says it's not yet able to comment on the proclamation.