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South Africa relents on U.S. poultry import blockade

Delaware Public Media

After years of fits and starts, South Africa is accepting U.S. poultry imports after threats of excluding the country from international trade agreements.

Trade negotiations between the two countries in Paris brokered a settlement last June, but Delaware Sen. Chris Coons (D) says South Africa continued to dodge terms of the agreement.

“We ultimately concluded that only a credible threat of retaliation by the United States against South African exports would get them to act and that was the case," said Coons. "It was really only in the 11th hour before they lost access to the American market that the South Africans agreed to open up our access to their market for poultry.”

In November, President Obama threatened to drop South Africa from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) within 60 days. They skipped that deadline, forcing Obama to issue another proclamation in January of suspending AGOA benefits by March 15.

They eventually complied, allowing up to 30 metric tons of American poultry into the country.

Coons and fellow Chicken Caucus co-chair Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) have been pressuring South African dignitaries, ambassadors and even President Jacob Zuma into dropping the trade barriers.

Because of the quick resolution, Coons says he's not concerned about any future poultry disputes.

“The president has access to this capability to suspend benefits for South Africa in terms of their access to our market at any time. It is not just a one and done authority.”

The poultry industry accounts for $4.6 billion of Delaware’s economy.

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