Pretoria – Meat imports and agricultural trade negotiations between South Africa and the United States have been concluded and South Africa is now expected to participate in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) without interruptions.
This was announced by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies on Thursday in Pretoria. He said negotiations ended on a positive note and reached a satisfactory conclusion.
The conclusion of the negotiations — which were based on extra-time after South Africa missed a deadline set by United States President Barrack Obama for 31 December 2015 — was reached on Wednesday.
Minister Davies said all documents were signed off in the meeting held on Wednesday.
“All regulations are now in place. Outstanding issues have been resolved,” said Minister Davies.
Minister Davies said government is now waiting on the United States to formally indicate that South Africa’s participation in AGOA will be without interruptions.
This will see poultry, beef and pork products being imported from the United States to South Africa.
“With regard to pork … South Africa has agreed to permit the unrestricted importation of shoulder cuts after the USA agreed to apply mitigation measures, including the removal of risk material before exportation to South Africa.
“On beef, South Africa had already agreed to import beef from the USA. However, the USA requested to be permitted to import livestock from third countries for direct slaughter and the meat thereof to be exported to South Africa,” said Minister Davies.
He said the USA has given guarantees that livestock imported from third countries for further export of the products will comply with the USA domestic requirements.
“South Africa has agreed to the assurances given by the USA,” said Minister Davies.
He said two issues were under consideration with regards to poultry — Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and Salmonella.
“Firstly on HPAI, an agreed Avian Influenza protocol for safe trade of poultry products was concluded in November 2015. The protocol will ensure that appropriate scientific measures are taken by the USA to ensure that the risk of transmission of HPAI to South Africa poultry is managed.
“Secondly on Salmonella, the USA requested South Africa to reconsider its application of the Procedure Manual on Microbial Monitoring of Imported Meat,” said Minister Davies.
According to the manual, all imported poultry products are tested for microbiological contamination, which includes salmonella and other conditions, at ports of entry before they are released into the market.
The deal will see 65 000 tons of poultry exported into South Africa per annum.
South Africa imports from over 3 000 establishments across the world, and the testing requirements apply to all the establishments.
The Department of Trade and Industry said a revised statistically risk-based sampling plan will be implemented, and South Africa will sample and test all consignments for compliance. The department said it will monitor the products after release from ports of entry.
About R25 billion of the R70 billion of the exports that go to the United States from South Africa go through in terms of AGOA.
Minister Davies said about 62 000 jobs in South Africa were a benefit from AGOA.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said the Department of Health will monitor ports of entry for cases of salmonella. South Africa will also test the imported meat to ensure it is healthy for consumption and nobody will be exposed to health risks.