Concerns about tariffs imposed by Southern African countries on European exports of frozen chicken have led the EU to seek formal consultations.
The consultations – the first step in a dispute settlement process – is over the decision by the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) to impose an extra tariff of 35.3%.
The EU considers that the extra duties imposed by SACU last September do not meet the provisions of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and the Southern African Development Community, to which SACU member states – South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Eswatini and Lesotho – are signatories.
The EU said it has sought on a number of occasions an amicable solution without success, but hoped an agreement could be reach in the course of the 40-day dispute settlement.
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If no solution is reached, the EU will be entitled under the EU-SADC agreement to request the establishment of an arbitration panel.
It says the tariff, which is subject to a progressive reduction over a period of 3.5 years, goes against requirements set under the agreement.
The European Commission added that the measure only had the effect of replacing EU imports, worth €183m a year, with imports from other countries, such as the United States and Brazil.
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Meanwhile, the Brazilian government has formally asked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to open a panel to investigate Indonesian policies on Brazil’s poultry exports.
Brazil won a case against Indonesia at the WTO in 2017, but according to news agency Reuters, said the WTO decision was never implemented by Indonesia, which continues to block any chicken imports from Brazilian companies.
The WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body is due to evaluate the issue at a meeting next week (24 June).