South Africa negotiated a reasonable deal with regards to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) on the poultry, pork and beef issue, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Thursday.
"We negotiated a reasonable deal, one that has some developmental content to it. At the end of the day, we've come out with a deal which is reasonable enough. We delivered on it and we managed to secure continued participation of South Africa in AGOA," said the Minister.
This comes as the Department of Trade and Industry announced that negotiations on the three meat issues had been concluded with the United States. This brought a close to months of discussions with the US on the terms required for South Africa to secure its position in the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
In November 2015, US President Barack Obama announced that the duty-free entry into the US of South Africa's agricultural exports under AGOA would end if South Africa's health restrictions on the import of US poultry, beef and pork were not lifted by January 4. However, the deadline was extended to 15 March 2016.
South Africa's special envoy on AGOA, Faizel Ismail, said both the US and South Africa have built in a programme to support the development of small business.
"We've built into the agreement a programme to support the development of small and medium enterprises in South Africa, particularly the small emerging farmers and new emerging importers. Already on 1 March, there was a meeting at the US embassy where experts from US were available to provide advice to new black importers," said Ismail.
Minister Davies said he received an e-mail from US trade representative Michael Froman saying that based on the actions taken, Froman would send a recommendation to President Obama to revoke the suspension of benefits for South Africa.
Minister Davies said negotiations had discussed several issues, including giving black owned businesses the opportunity to do the packaging as an ancillary to their own operations in the poultry production industry.
"There were a number of commitments made in terms of development and trade. We are attending to all of them with the DAFF [Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries] and the poultry industry," he said.
In addition, the first consignment of US bone-in chicken arrived at the Port of Durban on Friday.
"There are about 16 tonnes of bone-in chicken that have arrived," said Ismail. The total tonnage that South Africa has agreed on is 6 500 tonnes per annum.
South Africa will import bone-in chicken portions like wings and legs from the US. Minister Davies said the US is not the only place that South Africa imports chicken from, as it also imports from the European Union, among others.
Minister Davies said the imported meat will be repackaged.
"It comes in containers, it is frozen as well. It does not come in a format that is immediately accessible to consumers. The chicken will be labelled [as to] where it comes from, but that is if you buy it from the supermarket," said the Minister.
Ismail said South African vets have been "scrupulous in ensuring that the products that come to South Africa meet all health requirements".
"In the last few months, we also worked with the Department of Health. So all the meat that is going to be imported - poultry, beef and pork - will meet both our own standards and the OIE. The vets will be undertaking the mission of sampling each consignment that comes through," said Ismail.
The OIE is the World Trade Organisation reference body for standards relating to animal health.