Mzansi’s potato industry has welcomed the International Trade Administration Commission’s (ITAC) decision to reinstate import duties on frozen potato chips after tariffs lapsed earlier this year.
The decision, effective last week, comes after the conclusion of an anti-dumping investigation initiated by the body in November 2021, examining the potential material impact of frozen potato chip imports on South Africa’s agriculture and agri-processing activities.
“While trade and regional and global markets and economies are, of course, a priority, so is the protection of South Africa’s agricultural and manufacturing industries,” says Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potatoes SA.
Good news for local farmers
He adds, “The reality is that cheap or low-quality frozen potato chips entering the market could be detrimental to South African producers and the sector as a whole, and could cause a surge in illicit trading activities. These regulations will go a long way in preventing this, allowing farmers who are currently expected to grow 2.5 million tons of potatoes this year, to thrive.”
Overall, frozen fry import rates now stand at 67.33% for Belgium, 239.10% for the Netherlands, and 181.05% for Belgium, similar to those outlined by ITAC in their Essential Facts finding in October 2022. South Africa is one of the few countries in the world with a local supply of fresh potatoes all year round, with an estimated 400 000 tonnes being processed between 2017 and 2021.
Fair competition ensured
According to Jacobs, the implementation of anti-dumping tariffs can help level the industry playing field, ensuring fair competition. He says, “By supporting local producers, we can promote job creation, foster economic growth and maintain quality standards for the benefit of all stakeholders involved. This will also offer much-needed stability to consumers who are already facing significant pressures.”
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