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SAPA cautiously welcomes first shipment of chicken products from US

The first shipment of American poultry arrived on Friday and should be on the shelves in two weeks.

Picture: sxc.hu

CAPE TOWN - The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) has cautiously welcomed the arrival of the first consignment of chicken products from the United States (US).

The first shipment of American poultry arrived in Durban last Friday and should be on the shelves in two weeks.

The South Africa government late last year concluded negotiations with US authorities on the import of American poultry, beef and pork.

Government was under pressure to open its market to certain meat products from the US or face compromising trade agreements under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

The association's Kevin Lovelle says the organisation is still apprehensive.

"The products that are coming in from the US have higher food safety risks than products from other exporting countries. We don't think that's fair that they can export to us at lower standards than we have to farm to because all standards cost money, so it's a competitive thing as well as a food safety thing."

LISTEN: Is AGOA going to result in the collapse of SA's poultry industry?

Meanwhile, Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies says South Africa has managed to negotiate a reasonable deal to secure the country's participation in the AGOA.

Chicken imported from the United States is set to hit the shelves for the first time in 15 years.

Davies held a briefing in Cape Town this afternoon to allay fears over packaging, quality and how the deal will affect local production.

He says the US is not the only place that South Africa imports chicken from, for years the country has been importing from the EU.

Davies says it's unclear how the first shipment of chicken products will be packaged and if consumers will know where the poultry is from.

AgriSA's Thabi Nkosi says there's no real difference for consumers, other than maybe a slight price reduction.

"American is able to produce chicken a little cheaper and is able to bring it into the country a little cheaper as well."

Davies says South Africa is set to benefit from the AGOA for the next 10 years.

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