WASHINGTON – The United States and South Africa recently reached a definitive agreement to resume exports of US chicken, which have been banned since 2000, the National Chicken Council reported.

Under the agreement, South Africa agreed to an annual quota of 65,000 metric tons of chicken. The quota will be raised incrementally each year. South Africa also agreed to a policy of regionalization in the event of future detections of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the US. Previously, South Africa would impose a nationwide import ban on poultry if HPAI were detected in the US. Under the new agreement, bans would be imposed only on individual states affected by the virus.

In November, the Obama administration threatened to suspend South Africa’s duty-free benefits due to a lack of progress toward eliminating trade barriers to US services and products, including beef, pork and poultry. Following that announcement, South African and US veterinarians signed the “Protocol for Poultry Meat and Day-Old Chicks,” which “…will secure the continued exports of poultry from those areas in the US that are NOT AFFECTED by avian flu in the event of any new outbreaks of the disease,” the South Africa Department of Trade and Industry said.

“We’re pleased that this process has reached a successful conclusion and that US chicken can again be shipped to South Africa,” Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, (USAPEEC) and National Chicken Council (NCC) President Mike Brown said in a joint statement.

“Although success will ultimately be realized when US chicken is imported into South Africa, today’s announcement is a positive step to bringing increased economic benefits to US chicken farmers and companies across the country,” Sumner and Brown continued. “But the real winners are South African consumers, who will now be afforded even more options when it comes to wholesome protein sources.”