South Africa’s government asked the nation’s trade commission to consider temporarily scrapping a duty on chicken imports as the domestic poultry industry battles a deadly outbreak of avian flu.
Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel asked the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa, known as ITAC, to decide whether the temporary relief should only be applicable to ordinary customs duties or whether anti-dumping levies should also be removed, according to a Government Gazette notice.
The investigation must be done “in an expedited manner,” according to the directive.
The announcement follows a statement by the agriculture department on Oct. 2 that said Patel and Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza are assessing some trade instruments to ease the supply of chicken meat.
The outbreak of a highly pathogenic avian influenza has spawned concern that a lack of supply will drive up prices of chicken — an important source of animal protein for many South Africans.
Poultry firms have flagged losses because of the disease, as farmers are required to cull birds to control the spread.
By September 21, almost 2.7 million birds had been killed, according to a statement on ITAC’s website.
Patel reintroduced anti-dumping duties on so-called bone-in chicken portions from Brazil, Ireland, Poland, Spain and Denmark in August to protect the domestic poultry industry.