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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 IsaksonOssoff, Warnock to knock on doors in runoff campaigns Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff Democrats press Facebook, Twitter on misinformation efforts ahead of Georgia runoff MORE (R-Ga.) and Delaware Democrats Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Kerry says Paris climate deal alone 'is not enough' | EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler| EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds Overnight Energy: Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' | GM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards | United Nations agency says greenhouse gas emissions accumulating despite lockdown decline GSA transition delay 'poses serious risk' to Native Americans, Udall says MORE and Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDemocrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Biden rolls out national security team Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks 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.