The National Employers Association of South Africa (Neasa) on Tuesday requested that steel producer ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) withdraw its plea to the downstream steel industry to join it in a united lobbying effort for higher levels of tariff protection on both primary and value-added steel products.
Neasa CEO Gerhard Papenfus said the downstream steel industry does not support any of the protectionist measures AMSA has in mind.
“If AMSA wants to engage with the downstream [industry] on this issue, it should start by entering into discussions with Neasa . . . the largest representative organisation of downstream steel manufacturers.”
He said Neasa has already obtained the support of over 2 000 companies that are against both the 10% customs duty, as well as the 30% safeguard duty, AMSA is seeking.
“If AMSA's new strategy is one of canvassing support for its downstream-hostile protectionist agenda, Neasa is ready to further mobilise the downstream steel industry.”
Papenfus noted that many downstream products are already protected at the bound-rate, which is the maximum protection allowed by the World Trade Organisation, to which South Africa is a signatory.
He added that protecting the downstream industry was administratively impossible, given the thousands of products produced by the industry.