Jun 01, 2012
Imports curbing local industry’s potentialBack
Construction|Africa|Education|Environment|Industrial|Packaging|Pipe|Safety|Sassda|Stainless Steel|Transnet|Welding|Africa|China|South Africa|Taiwan|Vietnam|Building|Consumerware Products|Electricity|Green Building|Green-building|Local Stainless Steel Industry|Logistics|Manufacturing|Packaging|Product|Products|Services|Stainless Steel|Stainless Steel Industry|Steel|Transport|Environmental|Bill Scurr|Infrastructure|Pipe
© Reuse this
Rather than importing these, the local manufacture of consumerware products, as well as many other products not related to the stainless steel industry, has the potential to create jobs, create wealth and drive skills development, which would be beneficial to the domestic economy, he adds.
As an example, Scurr points out that, in 2011, about 10 000 t of hollowware was imported from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam.
He attributes the high amount of stainless steel and related product imports to a combination of the unfair provision of various subsidies in the countries of origin, the inconsistent application of import regulations, the misrepresentation of products and the misleading use of packaging.
“There may also be a lack of capacity within government to enforce the applicable import regulations,” he adds.
Scurr adds that the products being imported from Asian countries are also, in many cases, a lot cheaper than locally produced goods, as a result of cheap labour and the absence of labour laws in these countries.
“Sassda would never advocate the exploita- tion of labour or the absence of safety standards in the workplace, but we are urging government to look at the current import situation and to provide a level playing field by allowing the stainless steel industry to manufacture the products it is capable of producing.”
While concerned about imports, he comments that, with certain products, imports may be a natural result of South Africa not being able to competitively manufacture the products in question.
This is, however, not the case with con- sumerware, which comprises cookware, cutlery and utensils.
While many participants in the consumerware sector remain competitive, rising electricity and transport costs, coupled with South Africa’s complex labour laws, are potentially making it too expensive to locally manufacture consumerware products, such as knives and forks, which is a labour-intensive process, says Scurr.
Twenty years or so ago, there were a number of cutlery manufacturers in the country. Now only one such manufacturer remains and it is on very shaky ground, he notes.
Scurr adds that the South African industry has not yet been given a fair chance and adequate support to see whether it could, in fact, competitively manufacture cutlery.
Sassda often interacts with government to ensure it understands what the local stainless steel industry is capable of, so that it will allow the industry to contribute to the nation’s economic growth, and benefit from government’s planned major infrastructure programmes.
“We are not asking government to unreasonably or unfairly favour us in any way, but Sassda strives to represent a world- class industry and needs the support of government.
We believe the stainless steel industry’s inability to compete in some areas is the result of unfair economic practices,” says Scurr.
State-owned freight logistics group Transnet, in April, announced plans to spend R300-billion on infrastructure between 2012/13 and 2018/19, which is expected to create 588 000 job opportunities in the country. This is part of government’s overall long-term plan to invest in infrastructure in general, in South Africa.
“This is a major growth opportunity for the South African stainless steel industry,” says Scurr.
He adds that Sassda needs to ensure that it helps its members from all industries, such as architecture, building and construction, consumerware, castings, tube and pipe manufacturers, fabricators, welding, services and stockists to position themselves and benefit from government’s planned infrastructure spend.
In addition, Scurr states that South Africa’s Industrial Policy Action Plan’s development integration, which aims to boost intraregional trade in Africa, also holds many growth opportunities for the South African stainless steel industry.
“Lifting the restrictions on trade and ensuring free trade between African countries could hold many advantages for Sassda member companies, as well as all other indus- tries, as businesses will be able to expand into new territories.”
Another major consideration for the local stainless steel industry is skills, he adds, stating that education, training and skills upgrading are three of the most important factors to ensure growth in the industry. The use of Sassda’s existing training and education programmes provides a tool to deal with this issue and plans are being developed to expand such programmes, as well as make them more accessible to more people through elearning technology.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) has helped benchmark manufacturing companies to see how competitive they are in comparison with the rest of the world and to increase their competitiveness.
“Unido equips manufacturing companies with the necessary tools to become more competitive in the stainless steel industry,” says Scurr.
Sassda urges its members to comply with environmental regulations and ensure that production processes are environment friendly.
The association has incorporated environment-friendly judging criteria into its Stainless Steel Awards for 2012. “This is a way of encouraging our members to be environment-friendly and recognising those who are,” says Scurr.
Stainless steel is 100% recyclable, which adds to the industry’s green footprint.
Scrap metal is used as the primary raw material in its production, with up to 70% of the product coming from recycled material.
“Stainless steel is the preferred material for green building throughout the world,” says Scurr.
Further, he says, going forward, Sassda’s main goals are to ensure the conversion and promotion of stainless steel in South Africa, to provide the association’s members with the ability to be competitive and to provide the users of stainless steel with the necessary knowledge of the material’s uses and applications.
He adds that the association also aims to ensure the provision of technical support and education and training for its members and to interact with government and resolve issues that impact on the local stainless steel industry.
“As a fundamental objective, Sassda aims to increase the amount of stainless steel that is locally converted,” says Scurr.
Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Metals News
Recent Research Reports
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
This Week's Magazine
South Africa remains an important manufacturing and export platform for Ford Motor Company, says executive chairperson Bill Ford. However, he adds that other countries on the continent are “becoming interesting”, and that the US carmaker is casting its net wider for...
Germany’s Max-Planck-Society (MPG) and the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPlfR) are investing €11-million (about R150-million) into South Africa’s MeerKAT radio telescope array programme. The money will be used to design, build and install S-band radio...
Infrastructure spend in sub-Saharan Africa will grow from $70-billion in 2013 to $180-billion by 2025, says PwC capital projects and infrastructure Africa leader Jonathan Cawood. This is one of the findings of PwC’s Capital Projects & Infrastructure report on East...
Private-owned defence and aerospace manufacturer Paramount Group and the Ichikowitz Family Foundation unveiled its Anti-Poaching Skills and K9 Training Academy in Magaliesburg last month.
The inclusion of Bluetooth to provide sub-three meter accuracy and heightened functionality for users is one of the ways to change existing wireless networks into engagement networks. An engagement network differs from common wireless networks in that it enables the...