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News article3 August 2022BrusselsDirectorate-General for Trade

Panel rules in favour of EU on Southern African Customs Union’s safeguard on EU poultry cuts

An arbitration panel ruled in favour of the EU in a bilateral dispute with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) under the EU-SADC EPA over a safeguard measure imposed by SACU on EU imports of frozen chicken cuts.

In a report issued today, an arbitration panel ruled in favour of the EU in a bilateral dispute with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) under the EU-Southern African Development Community Economic Partnership Agreement (EU-SADC EPA) [1] over a safeguard measure imposed by SACU on EU imports of frozen chicken cuts. The safeguard measure affected EUR 183 million worth of EU exports. [2]

The panel found that the safeguard measure was not proportionate and went beyond what was needed to remedy or prevent any serious injury or disturbances. Moreover, the delay between the investigation and the adoption of the safeguard measure was excessive and not in line with the EU-SADC EPA.

The ruling sets a strong precedent for the imposition of similar safeguards under the EU SADC agreement in the future. While safeguard measures can legally be adopted in exceptional circumstances to temporarily counter surging imports that threaten domestic industry, these must at all times comply with the legal requirements set out in the agreement.

While no immediate action is required from SACU to implement the ruling given that the safeguard measure expired in March 2022, the Commission will remain vigilant to ensure that the EU industry is not subjected to any further unjustified restrictions in the future.

A non-confidential version of the report will be published on the dedicated website of DG Trade as soon as possible.  


In September 2018, SACU adopted a safeguard measure on frozen chicken cuts from the EU in the form of increased import duties. On 14 June 2019, the EU formally requested consultations with SACU on these safeguards measures, arguing that they did not comply with the requirements for such measures under the EU-SADC EPA and thus amounted to illegal duties. Consultations were held in September 2019, following which, in April 2020, the EU requested the establishment of a bilateral dispute resolution panel. Following delays occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, an arbitration panel was established and started working on 29 November 2021. This was the first time the EU triggered a bilateral dispute settlement mechanism under one of its EPAs.

For more information

EU-SADC trade relations

Southern African Customs Union poultry safeguards (


[1] EPA benefitting countries are: Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Eswatini.

[2] This is based on 2016 data, which is the last year before SACU investigation. 95% of EU exports of this type of frozen poultry was exported to South Africa and the rest to Namibia.


Publication date
3 August 2022
Directorate-General for Trade
Country or region
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Trade topics
Actions against exports from the EUSafeguards