Dept denies being bullied by US into signing meat deal

SA will accept chicken, meat and pork from the US in exchange for duty free imports to that country.

Chicken. Picture: Stock.XCHNG.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Trade and Industry has denied it was bullied by the United States (US) into striking a deal under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) for the next 10 years.

The deal will see South Africa accept chicken, meat and pork from the US in exchange for duty free imports to that country.

The first shipment of frozen chicken legs arrived at the port of Durban last week as part of an annual 650,000 tons of brown chicken imports agreed on as part of the deal.

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

The meat is expected to be on the shelves before the deadline of 15 March.

The department's Sidwell Medupe says the deal is mutually beneficial.

"We were not bullied into anything that is the nature of negotiations. Negotiations have a give and take and both countries are benefitting from Agoa."

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

Meanwhile, Minister Rob Davies said South Africa managed to negotiate a reasonable deal to secure the country's participation in the Agoa.

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

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

Davies said 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 said there's no real difference for consumers, other than maybe a slight price reduction.

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