Trade restrictions keep Botswana chicken meat prices high

Chicken meat prices in Botswana are expected to remain high. This follows the government’s decision to retain tight trade regulations that prevent cheaper supply and price competition from foreign poultry producers.

This was according to a recent African Competition Forum (ACF) study on the commercial poultry meat industry in Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, and Zambia.

In its study report released recently, the forum revealed that the price of chicken meat was higher in Botswana than in its three neighbours – South Africa, Namibia and Zambia The study noted that consumers in Botswana would continue to pay more for chicken meat, as the government was hesitant to allow supply from poultry producers such as South Africa, Brazil and the US.

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ACF Botswana researcher Ernest Bagopi said that the reason for the high price was that the country had a multi-tiered system of protection to prevent competition from foreign producers.

“The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) imposes a tariff to protect South Africa from competition from Brazil and the US, while Botswana imposes a complete ban on chicken imports and only allows occasional imports from South Africa, when there are shortages,” Bagopi said.

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“We need to allow some competition because we have an industry that has had infant protection since the early 1980s. It will never become competitive unless it is forced to compete,” he added.

Bagopi suggested that the government ease protectionist policies and allow foreign competition.

“Relaxing protectionist policies would ensure greater price competition for chicken, and this would benefit end-consumers,” he said.