Potatoes industry urgent SOS call ignored by ITAC

The potatoes industry is up in arms following the continued silence of the International Trade Commission (ITAC) anti-dumping duties on frozen potatoes originating in or imported from Belgium and the Netherlands. 

Dubbed the ‘sunset review’, McCain Foods SA, representing the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) was the first to lodge the appeal joined by other producers such as Lamberts Bay Foods and Nature Garden. 

Just last week FairPlay’s warned about a threat of potato farmers from cheap imports which expired were set to expire on 07 August 2019. 

“South Africa’s independent regulator, the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC), had 18 months in which to investigate that application, but failed to complete the task in time. As a result, by default, the duties fell away in July 2021” according to FairPlay. 

According to a determination submitted by local potatoes producers, the Commission found there was prima facie proof indicating that the expiry of the anti-dumping duties “would likely lead to the continuation and/or recurrence of dumping of the subject product import from or originating in Belgium and the Netherlands.” 

Added to this, there was also prima facie proof indicating that the expiry of the anti-dumping duties would likely lead to the recurrence of material injury. 

Having being satisfied with the evidence, the Commission launched an investigation in terms of Section 16 of the International Trade Administration Act, 2002 but was still yet to present the outcomes of its investigation.  

Potatoes SA, one of the largest potatoes producer and farmer association, said in a statement that the recent lapse of the anti-dumping duty protection bared significant risks to the industry which could cripple South African potatoes farmers.

“Our producers don’t benefit from the financial support afforded to EU farmers by their governments, and simply cannot compete with below-cost products being dumped in our country. With less demand for local produce, there will be a ripple effect on livelihoods and job-losses, not to mention the effect on the economy” said Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potatoes South Africa (PSA). 

McCain Foods SA also joined the concerned chorus and warned of jobs and livelihoods being sacrificed at the alter. 

“Further threats in terms of both demand and cost, may force local growers and processors out of business. Supporting the local agricultural sector is the most powerful and promising measure of combating the effects of agricultural dumping, which directly threatens our economy and livelihoods” added McCain Foods Managing Director Unathi Mhlatyana. 

The silence by the department of trade and ITAC could hurt the potatoes industry, which contributes an estimated R8,5 billion to the economy and 45 000 permanent jobs.

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