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Expiration of anti-dumping tariffs on fries leaves South African potato industry vulnerable

Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potatoes South Africa (Courtesy: Potatoes South Africa)

Anti-dumping tariffs on frozen French fries imported from the Netherlands and Germany have expired, leaving the South African potato industry vulnerable to ‘dumping’.

The anti-dumping duties had been in force from January 2016 to January 2021, and its implementation had led to a decline of more than 60% in frozen French fries imports since October 2016 up until 2020.

Opportunity was given to apply for extension through a Sunset Review, during which a case needed to be built to prove that expiry of duties would lead to a surge in dumping.

The food company, McCain, applied to the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) for reinstatement of the tariff for an additional five years, but ITAC did not complete the application within the prescribed 18 months, resulting in the removal of the duties being announced in the Government Gazette on 9 July 2021.

Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potatoes South Africa (Potatoes SA), said that imports were not a problem for the industry, unless they were sold below a fair market prices.

Willie Jacobs:
"Products that undercut local supplies can ruin South African producers financially, which in turn may have a negative impact on supplies and lead to long periods without stock and shortages that can cause significant price increases, well above affordability."
As a member of the Potato and Vegetable Processors Forum, Potatoes SA would continue to support various systems to ensure the sustainability of the potato industry.

Willie Jacobs:
"The previous protection mechanism [proved] to be effective in ensuring the sustainability [of the local industry], and there is more than significant case law to suggest it to be necessary. We will fully support any further application to ensure the health of the industry."
Jacobs called on consumers to buy local to keep support the local industry.