The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) has filed a lawsuit seeking to force the government to suspend a quota that excludes some U.S. poultry imports from an anti-dumping tariff, a senior SAPA official said on Tuesday.

If successful, the move, which appears to be a response to the Trump administration’s decision to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel imports, could put at risk duty-free access to the U.S. market for nearly $2 billion worth of South African exports.

South African levies a tariff on “bone-in” poultry that is says is exported by major world producers, including the United States, at prices below the cost of production. In 2015, South Africa agreed to a quota that allows some 65,000 metric tons of meat from U.S. producers to be imported tariff-free each year into South Africa.  South African agreed to the deal to preserve its benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which grants qualifying countries duty-free access to the U.S. market.

In 2017, more than $1.8 billion in South African exports, including some now subject to tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imposed by Washington, were covered by AGOA.  The South African government has tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Trump administration to grant it an exclusion from the new tariffs.

SAPA is arguing that the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports imposed by Washington violate the quota agreement by curtailing AGOA benefits. “The quota should be suspended if any of the benefits that South Africa enjoyed at the time of the renewal of AGOA are suspended.  This has happened to steel and aluminum, which used to be duty free under AGAO,”  said Marthinus Stander, chairman of SAPA’s broiler organization.

“We hope that the U.S. and South Africa will amicably resolve the differences they have over the steel and aluminum tariffs but it should not interfere with agreements already reached on poultry trade,” said Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council. “We will certainly be encouraging our government to take appropriate action.”