Lawmakers press South Africa to open the market for U.S. poultry

A bipartisan trio of senators on Monday called on the Obama administration to hold South Africa accountable for missing a deadline aimed at opening up that market for U.S. poultry.

Sens. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler plans to spend million on Georgia Senate campaign Georgia governor bucks Trump with Senate seat appointment Lawmakers to watch during Wednesday's impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ga.) and Delaware Democrats Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperLobbying World Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Democrats give Warren's 'Medicare for All' plan the cold shoulder MORE and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenate Democrats ask Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters Hillicon Valley: Google to limit political ad targeting | Senators scrutinize self-driving car safety | Trump to 'look at' Apple tariff exemption | Progressive lawmakers call for surveillance reforms | House panel advances telecom bills Democrats raise privacy concerns over Amazon home security system MORE expressed concern that South Africa missed an Oct. 15 deadline that would remove a 100-percent tariff on U.S. chicken implemented in 2000.

"South Africa failed to finalize both the trade protocol and health certificate for U.S. poultry despite the administration’s intense engagement with South Africa over the past year to resolve these issues,” the senators said.

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“South Africa must take the necessary steps to resolve outstanding barriers to U.S. poultry immediately if its AGOA [African Growth and Opportunity Act] benefits are to be preserved."

The AGOA trade deal — signed by President Obama in June — requires an out-of-cycle review of South Africa’s trade practices, specifically antidumping duties on U.S. poultry, if the agreement isn't fulfilled. 

In June, the United States and South Africa reached an agreement opening up the market to American poultry exports, ending the 15-year trade dispute. 

The lawmakers said that despite assurances from high-level South African officials since the deal was brokered four months ago, there has been little movement on resolving the final issues. 

South Africa has resisted using a regional approach for the avian flu as recommended under the World Organization for Animal Health and differences remain on the health certificate, the lawmakers said. 

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Isakson and Coons are the co-chairmen of the Senate Chicken Caucus and Carper is a member. 

Both of their states have large poultry industries and are major exporters of poultry.

The poultry industry provides more than $15 billion to the Georgia economy and $4.6 billion into Delaware's, according to the National Chicken Council.