SOUTH AFRICA-The anti-dumping tariffs on French fries placed on three European countries by the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (Itac) have lapsed creating room for cheaper imports.

This means relief to potato consumers according to frozen food importer Hume International.

In July last year, concerns were raised about higher prices and even shortages after the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) imposed provisional anti-dumping duties on three major importers.

Germany was hit tariffs of 181.05%, a 104.52% tariff was imposed on the Netherlands, and 23.06% on Belgium for six months on the grounds that dumping was taking place.

However, ITAC told a local-news media, News24, that the provisional duties were meant to ensure that the local industry is protected from alleged “injurious dumping” while the investigation was underway.

The commission added that the final verdict will be made once investigations are concluded.

“The Commission is ensuring that all due processes are followed to ensure the completion of the investigation, and thereafter the Minister’s decision will follow. Further developments will be communicated in due course,” said ITAC.

However, Hume International, a major importer of frozen food in South Africa, describes the development as “a small but much-needed reprieve for the food industry”

“We need to do everything in our power to bring prices down, which includes doing away with unnecessarily heavy duties,” said Fred Hume, managing director of Hume International

He added that “competition is integral to an economy’s ongoing welfare, and our food industry benefits greatly from global trade which serves to fill shortages in the market and keep prices stable.”

According to Hume, the South African local industry produces sufficient amounts of potatoes to meet consumer demand but this cannot be said for the specific variant used to make French fries, hence the continual reliance on imports.

He added that the high prices continue revenge on the struggling population, especially considering that an estimated 55% of South Africans live below the upper-bound poverty line and cannot afford increases in expenses.

“We are not out of the woods just yet, in fact, not even close to it. This is but one small victory in the ongoing fight against rampant food price inflation, and if the average South African is to survive the year, we need to implement more substantial measures.”

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