The US had asked South Africa to reconsider its application of the Procedure Manual on Microbial Monitoring of Imported Meat.
This sets out the need for all imported poultry products to be tested for microbiological contamination at the port of entry before being released to the market.
The country imports from more than 3,000 establishments worldwide and testing requirements apply to all of them.
South Africa agreed to, for the first three months, risk profile all consignments from US export establishments. After there will be a revised statistically risk-based sampling plan.
South Africa will sample and test all consignments for compliance. The Department of Health will monitor products after release from ports on entry.
The deal is part of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), enacted in 2001. It is a unilateral trade preferential programme the US offers to 48 African sub- Saharan countries.
President Obama signed the AGOA Extension & Enhancement Act (AEEA) of 2015 into law on June 29, extending AGOA benefits for 10 years.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said only a limited number of poultry and meat products have been exported to South Africa in recent years, due to what it called ‘unwarranted sanitary requirements’ by the South African authorities, with most poultry exports blocked for the last 15 years.
It added with the renewed access for red meat and poultry products, US exports to South Africa could generate $75m of shipments annually.
The deal means a quota of 65,000 tons per annum for import of US bone-in chicken pieces, in which anti-dumping duties will be waived.
South Africa’s AGOA (including GSP) exports amounted to US$3.1bn in 2014.
Tom Vilsack, USDA agriculture secretary, said South Africa reaffirmed the scientific soundness and integrity of the US system for ensuring animal health and food safety with the agreement.
“The past seven years have been the strongest in history for agricultural trade, with US agricultural product exports totaling $911.4bn since 2009.
“Strong agricultural exports contribute to a positive US trade balance, create jobs and boost economic growth. Those exports supported approximately one million US jobs last year.”
Reaction to agreement
The US chicken industry applauded the news of an definitive agreement to allow US chicken producers to resume exports of US chicken parts to South Africa.
The agreement finalizes a pact negotiated last June between the US and South African industries to reopen the South African market to bone-in US chicken parts, which have been excluded since 2000.
Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) and Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council (NCC) said they were pleased US chicken can again be shipped to South Africa.
“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,” they said.
"But the real winners are South African consumers, who will now be afforded even more options when it comes to wholesome protein sources."
Michael Froman, US Trade Representative, said: “While we celebrate the progress we have made in resolving the outstanding technical issues, the true test of our success will be based on the ability of South African consumers to buy American product in local stores.
“We will be working to ensure that this final benchmark of entry of poultry is achieved so that South Africa continues to have the advantage of full AGOA benefits, including by working with the US and South African industries to expedite the shipment of eligible product as soon as possible.”