The National Chicken Council, along with 14 other food and agricultural organizations, sent a letter to members of Congress recently registering their strong opposition to a long-term or permanent extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) as has been proposed by some.  The letter expressed its concern that an extension of AGOA or making it permanent would remove any incentives for nations involved to move toward reciprocal trade relations with the United States.   In addition, “we do not believe that AGOA recipent nations should be rewarded for maintaining barriers to U.S. exports that go beyond those permitted in trade agreements,” the letter said.  “U.S. producers and exporters are losing export sales and costing the United States jobs.”

AGOA benefits “should not be taken for granted by countries that maintain restrictions on U.S. food and agricultural products,” the letter said.  The letter pointed out one example of this regarding the antidumping duties that South Africa has had in place on imports of frozen bone-in chicken prices from the United States for 12 years.

Before imposing the antidumping duties, South Africa imported approximately $10 million to $24 million of chicken meat from the United States annually.  However, as a result of imposing antidumpting duties, U.S. exports of chicken meat to South Africa have been priced out of the market, allowing other countries, such as Brazil, to gain market share, the letter pointed out.  South Africa’s antidumping duties have been extended until 2017.

The groups signing the letter did not suggest that AGOA should be replaced with free trade agreements under which U.S. goods would receive open access to AGOA.  But, instead,  “AGOA beneficiaries should be expected to refrain from erecting blatantly protectionist and WTO-incompatible barriers to our products.  There must be some accountability for such actions, and giving countries long-term or permanent duty-free preferential access to the U.S. market for their products does precisely the opposite,” the letter concluded.