South Africa Increases Import Duties on Whole Chickens to 82%

South Africa raised duties on chickens shipped from overseas to help boost the local industry and halt job cuts, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said.

The country will raise tariffs on imports of whole birds to 82 percent, the maximum allowed, from 27 percent, Davies told reporters today in Pretoria, the capital. The duties apply to shipments except those from European Union nations and are effective today, he said. The charge on chicken-carcass imports was raised to 31 percent from 27 percent, while that on boneless cuts increased to 12 percent from 5 percent, he said.

Companies including Astral Foods Ltd. (ARL) and RCL Foods Ltd. (RCL), the country’s biggest chicken producer, have asked for protection from imports amid a drop in profit. The South African Poultry Association says imports of some cuts from Brazil and Europe are hurting the local industry and may lead to as many as 20,000 job losses. The Association of Meat Importers and Exporters, a local meat-trading lobby group, says increasing duties will drive up food costs for consumers.

“You will pay a little more for your roast chickens, that’s our decision,” Davies said. “Tariffs are used as a tool for industrial development; we aren’t trying to make money out of it, it’s part of developing our industry.”

Astral erased an earlier decline of as much as 0.8 percent and traded 1.3 percent higher at 96.25 rand after the announcement. RCL climbed 1.3 percent to 16.50 rand by 11 a.m. in Johannesburg, having traded as much as 1.2 percent lower before the Davies’ comments.

The tariffs will apply to chicken imports to all countries that are members of the Southern African Customs Union, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tshepiso Mokhema in Johannesburg at tmokhema@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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