By Bahle Gama
While member states of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) fight against poultry anti-dumping by European countries, Eswatini appears not to be affected. Director of Veterinary and Livestock Services Dr Xolani Dlamini says Eswatini has classified its poultry industry as sensitive and is therefore protected from poultry dumping, adding that the importation of poultry and related products was strictly controlled.
“As such, NAMBoard verifies the shortage of poultry products in the market before any authority to import is issued. Furthermore, the Department of Veterinary Services issues import permits before any such products are allowed in. The country is generally self-sufficient in fresh poultry. We eat what we raise and produce locally. Therefore, the EU dumping was not affecting Eswatini directly, but it was affecting South Africa and indirectly affecting the whole of SACU,” he said.
At the beginning of August, South Africa announced it would suspend the imposition of anti-dumping duties on chicken imports from Brazil and four European Union countries namely Denmark, Ireland, Poland, and Spain for at least a year, to protect consumers from high food prices.
The suspension comes after an investigation by the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC in 2021 into anti-dumping duties against the five countries. It was determined that chicken was sold in South Africa at extremely low prices, making it near impossible for the local poultry industry players to compete.
South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel said the decision was arrived at after careful consideration of the current rapid rise in food prices in the local market and globally, and the significant impact that had on the poor.
While the rest of the SACU members appear to be grappling with the issue of anti-dumping, Eswatini appears to have had to foresight to deal with the matter before it could affect the local industry.
Dr Dlamini said the government put in place measures that protected the country not only from European dumping but even regional attempts.
“Government classified the poultry industry as an infant and sensitive and immediately protected it from any dumping many years ago. The regulatory mechanism does not only prevent the EU but all countries from dumping into the country. Remember that the South African poultry industry is also big enough to have the capabilities of dumping into Eswatini,” he said.
According to a performance report from the Ministry of Agriculture 2022/2023 financial year, 50 000 chickens are reported to have reached the market and an income of about E350 000 was generated from sales. These were sold through farm gate sales, hotels, and supply restaurants.
There was also an increase in the local production of broilers with a target of 150 000 MT. 663 MT broiler meat was reportedly produced by smallholder farmers nationally and generated E22 966 990.