Chickens © 123RF
Chickens © 123RF

US backs down in 'chicken wars' with South Africa

18 March 2016

The US has backed down on threats to deny duty free access to South African produce after an end to a trade dispute dubbed “the chicken wars”.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman said his country and South Africa had reached an agreement to resolve what he termed “longstanding barriers to U.S. poultry, beef, and pork”.

Last year US president Barak Obama threatened to suspend some of the preferential trade conditions that South Africa enjoys under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

The suspension would have affected all agricultural produce, though not other commodities such as textiles that are also part of the agreement.

As part of a dispute dubbed the “chicken wars” South Africa had refused to allow US chicken imports for 15 years. The refusal was due to sanitation fears following an outbreak of avian flu in America.

The US had threatened to go ahead with the suspension if the country’s chicken was not available in South African shops by 15 March.

But earlier in March the first shipment of American chicken arrived in South Africa.

The US complained last year: “Exports of US poultry have been effectively excluded from the South African market for 15 years due to a range of trade barriers and other measures. 

“Likewise, exports of US pork and beef have been blocked from the South African market for several years due to unwarranted sanitary restrictions. Years of technical and political engagement with South Africa to address these issues have been unsuccessful in resolving them.”

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