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South Africa seeking full exemptions on steel & aluminium

South Africa’s Trade and industry minister Rob Davies says the government remains engaged with the US and continues to request a country exemption. According to trade and industry minister Rob Davies, SA’s exports to the US did not pose a threat to that country’s steel and aluminium industries because they accounted for 1%-2% of total US imports. While the department wants a full exemption for SA from the tariffs, the US commerce department has granted product exemptions for imports of 161 aluminium and 36 steel products. Department of Trade and Industry said “The products exemptions are applicable to companies whose buyers in the US made requests to the commerce department for the products to be excluded from the section 232 duties. Exempted products included aluminium foil, aluminium plates, hot rolled steel bars, hot rolled steel sheets and cold rolled steel sheets.”

In a bid to protect the steel industry in the US, Mr Trump signed a proclamation in March imposing a 10% tariff on imports of aluminium and a 25% tariff on imported steel. The US excluded countries such as Mexico, Canada, South Korea, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and the entire EU from the new duties. South Africa has been asking for a similar exemption since then and the US has been refusing. The tariffs, which will result in the displacement of SA’s products in the US market, aggravated the problems of South African producers in grappling with excess capacity and weak demand.

In July, the Department of Trade and Industry said companies that would feel the effect of the tariffs included Duferco Steel Processing, which it said exported 57% of production to US, and aluminium supplier and exporter Humalin (its exports to US accounted for 25% of its sales), according to the department’s presentation to parliament’s portfolio committee on trade and industry.
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