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Brazil Claims SA Industry Body Inflated Poultry Imports

by 5m Editor
29 June 2012, at 10:37am

SOUTH AFRICA - The South African Poultry Association "grossly overstated official import statistics" in submissions to the investigation into poultry imports from Brazil, documents addressed to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) from Brazil claimed.

According to BusinessDay, the claims by the Brazilians sought to cast doubt on the integrity of SA’s trade practices, in a dispute that dents two emerging economies which in recent years have worked on forging closer economic and political relations.

Last week Brazil announced that it had taken the dispute between its poultry association, headed by Francisco Turra, and SA’s organisation to the WTO, saying SA ha d been "uncooperative".

"SA did not make an objective examination, based on positive evidence of the volumes of dumped imports and the effects of prices in the domestic market," Brazil’s foreign ministry says in its document to the WTO.

Submissions by the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters of SA, which has also applied for a review of the decision to impose provisional duties on certain cuts of chicken from Brazil, also concur with Brazil’s submission to the WTO.

Association CEO David Wolpert said that not only were the statistics submitted by SA’s poultry body to the International Trade Administration Commission of SA (Itac) investigation into poultry dumping incorrect, but they inflated the imports from Brazil by 54 per cent.

"These misinterpreted stats were also used to hide the fact that Argentina exported significantly higher volumes at lower prices to SA," he said.

Mr Wolpert claims the import statistics provided by SA’s poultry association are "fundamentally incorrect" and do not reconcile to the official statistics from the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

However, Itac refuted claims that it has used the incorrect data, saying the statistics were obtained from SARS.

"Further consideration made by the commission on this issue, based on comments to the preliminary report received from the interested parties, will be detailed in the commission’s final report to be released in due course," said communication manager Thembinkosi Gamlashe.

Brazil also claims SA failed to give exporters ample opportunities to present evidence prior to the imposition of provisional duties.

Mr Wolpert said some documents were disregarded by the commission due to technicalities.

Itac said that all interested parties were given opportunities to provide information in a format required by the commission’s regulations and questionnaires were sent to interested parties.

"Parties whose information does not conform to the provisions of the regulations are notified and given further opportunities to resubmit their information in a format required, in time for the commission’s consideration in making its determinations," Itac said.

South African Poultry Association CEO Kevin Lovell said all the statistics presented were verified by SARS. "Anyone can use statistics to suit their needs. Total imports have grown 40% year on year, Brazil is definitely the biggest exporter from that total," he said.

Mr Lovell questioned the relevance of mentioning that Argentina may be an even bigger exporter than Brazil. "We have a solid case against Brazil. We do not have Itac in our pockets, we have a fair trade administration in SA and this is an ideal opportunity to prove this. Itac would not have processed our claim had it not been accurate.

"My main hope is that SA engages vigorously at the WTO and defends the integrity of our trade bodies," he said.

Itac will make a recommendation to the trade and industry minister soon, and SA will have to take part in a consultative process at the WTO.