The United States moved to suspend trade benefits for South African farm products on Thursday, escalating a drawn-out dispute over US chicken and meat exports.
US President Barack Obama said he planned to revoke duty-free status for South African agricultural goods in 60 days under a programme set up to help African exporters.
US Trade Representative Michael Froman said South Africa could still avoid the suspension, which could cost it up to $7 million in lost benefits, if it met benchmarks to eliminate barriers to US poultry, pork, and beef.
SA Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davis, told 702’s Afternoon Drive that his department was aware of the issue and they are willing to renegotiate.
Davies says he received the assurance from a US trade representative yesterday.
South Africa has banned US poultry imports since last December after an outbreak of bird flu. The measure came on top of 15 years of punitive import duties on some US chicken products.
The country missed a 15 October deadline to agree on new animal health and food safety rules, which also affect US beef and pork exports, prompting the United States to warn that its eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade programme was at risk.
Listen to Minister Rob Davis talking to Xolani Gwala