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South African Poultry Industry May Lose 20,000 Jobs This Year

South African poultry industry may cut more jobs if imports from Brazil and the European Union continue, Poultry Association Chief Executive Officer Kevin Lovell said.

“It is a crisis,” he said in an interview with Johannesburg-based Financial Mail magazine. “As many as 20,000 jobs could be lost this year in an industry that employs about 50,000 people directly and another 90,000 indirectly.”

South Africa’s Food and Allied Worker’s Union staged a march on April 3 to ask the nation’s Department of Trade and Industry to impose tariffs on chicken imports from the European Union and Brazil. The poultry association applied to the International Trade Administration Commission to impose a general tariff and get protection from EU shipments under the World Trade Organisation rules.

“On some products, we are asking for tariffs to be increased to the 82 percent maximum allowed by the WTO,” Lovell said.

Trade Minister Rob Davies in December decided not to impose anti-dumping duties on whole birds and boneless cuts from Brazil and instead said there was scope to raise general tariffs for shipments, Business Day reported on Dec. 27. South Africa had imposed additional anti-dumping duties of 6 percent to 63 percent from February to August last year on some chicken cuts from the Latin American country.

Astral Foods Ltd., South Africa’s second-biggest chicken producer, cut 150 jobs last year as it reduced output after the price of grains, the biggest cost, surged to a record and cheaper imports of the birds increased. The company’s earnings per share excluding one-time items declined 82 percent in the six months through March, it said in a May 13 statement.

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