International Game of "Chicken" Over the Chicken Industry - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

International Game of "Chicken" Over the Chicken Industry

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SEAFORD, Del. - An international game of "chicken" is forming over trade negotiations between The United States and South Africa. Central to this debate is the poultry industry and South African tariffs that many Congressmen are calling "illegal."

To describe the debate, WBOC was joined by Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware. Coons told WBOC that they are threatening to not renew a major trade agreement between the two nations if South Africa doesn't lift the poultry tariff.

"I'm not looking to hurt South Africa," Coons said. "I just want to make sure that we've got fair trade."

For much of the last decade, South Africa has placed a "counter-dumping duty" on all American poultry items, which Coons said has all but pushed American exports out. In doing so, Coons said that the country has missed out on approximately 100,000 metric tons of chicken exports to South Africa.

South Africa initiated the tariff to combat what they referred to as "illegally low" prices of American poultry items.

In response to this tariff, Congressmen like Coons have shot back. Members of the "Chicken Caucus" are fighting to not renew something called the "African Growth and Opportunity Act," with South Africa. This agreement opens up American markets to African exports from countries like South Africa. If the trade agreement were not renewed, South African's economy would lose approximately $2.5 billion, according to Coons.

"We won't allow the trade deal that gives South Africa unlimited access to American markets to be renewed," he said. "Unless they open up they're markets to our chicken exports."

Meanwhile at the Truitt farm in Seaford, Craig Truitt said it's all about supply and demand. Truitt said he objected to any tariff that would hurt the demand of Delmarva chicken.

"Any time there's a tariff that lessens the demand for our product," he said. "It does have an effect on us eventually when we can't sell what we produce."

With the trade agreement set to expire this fall, Coons said congressional action on a new agreement could be forming within the next couple months. The typical trade agreement lasts for five to ten years. Coons said he is optimistic that South Africa will remove the tariff.

"The South Africans have a lot more to lose than we do," he said.

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