A number of interventions are being identified which include measures to boost competitiveness, value-addition and technology upgrading; trade measures; export support to assist the domestic industry to access foreign markets; industrial finance and incentives with conditions for improving competitiveness; and measures to promote growth and transformation of the poultry industry among others. This was said by the Department of Trade and Industry officials during a briefing to the Select Committee on Trade and International Relations about the challenges facing the Poultry Sector in Parliament today.
The poultry industry employs 48 000 and 63 000 direct and indirect jobs respectively and is therefore important to ensure the sustainability of the industry.
The Deputy Director General of Industrial Development at the dti, Garth Strachan said stakeholders need to do everything in their power to save jobs in the poultry. “There is a broad agreement that manufacturing-led growth is critical for high economic and employment growth and the poultry sector is critical to this effort. To this effect, government through the establishment of the Action-focused Government Task Team has taken the support for the sector to another level through the structured mechanism. This team will develop a common response to the complex challenges facing the domestic industry,” he adds.
“The team will receive inputs and undertake research where required; identify possible areas for intervention; engage with different stakeholders; make recommendations for intervention and unblock areas for intervention,” Strachan.
According to Strachan, shared responsibilities between the state, private sector and labour are vital to the sector. This he says will allow growth, competitiveness, job retention, raise production, raise exports and market share.
The Deputy Director-General at the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), Ms Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter emphasised the need for the poultry industry to take advantage of new market access opportunities in the Gulf as this would assist to avert job loses.
The committee also heard that while there are US imports of chickens, these are not the source of the present crisis of the poultry. In 2015 South Africa and the US made a breakthrough in the long-standing dispute of the export of bone-in chicken pieces from the US. The deal secured South Africa’s participation in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) for the next 10 years!
According to the Paris agreement, the US was allowed to export of 65 000 tons a year to South Africa. However, it has emerged that the US has not fully utilised the quota optimally. Therefore, Agoa is not the main contributor for the current poultry crises.
Distributed by APO on behalf of The Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa.