Stainless steel apparent consumption increases

31st May 2013 By: Zandile Mavuso - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features

South Africa’s stainless steel apparent consumption hit a high of 228 258 t last year, despite economic difficulties in most countries, as a result of a global financial meltdown, states the Southern Africa Stainless Steel Development Association (Sassda).

“In 2011, the apparent consumption was 201 400 t, indicating an increase of 26 858 t. Primary local supply increased by about 5%, while primary imports increased by 20%. The 27% increase in finished-product imports also added to the substantial growth for 2012. Increased imports and some major projects in the infrastructure sector, such as the Medupi power station, are some of the factors that contributed to the high apparent consumption in 2012,” says Sassda market intelligence specialist Lesley Squires.

However, Sassda notes that, although the apparent consumption has hit a new high, the export of finished goods dropped by 9%, which is partially a result of the reduced demand for catalytic converters from the struggling European market.

“Like many local industries, the South African stainless steel manufacturing industry is under threat from low-priced, imported products, particularly from China and India. We are continually interacting with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and other government departments, such as the South African Revenue Service (Sars), to identify mechanisms that could help reduce improper stainless steel manufactured product imports,” highlights Squires.

Sassda is considering many strategies to assist local manufacturers in competing with cheaper imports, including through increased awareness campaigns to drive the consumption of locally manufactured stainless steel products in South Africa.

“We have discussed various options with the DTI and Sars; these include the designation of products, making importers comply with the relevant South African Bureau of Standards requirements and an antidumping policy. We are also attempting to tighten import-control compliance, which includes using the correct Harmonised System codes and reference pricing to detect undervalued imports,” she adds.

Sassda will launch a campaign at the end of May to promote the use of locally manufactured stainless steel consumerware products. While the attributes of stainless steel form part of the campaign, it also focuses on highlighting the ‘cross and balls’ symbol, which indicates a product was manufactured locally. The campaign will continue throughout the remainder of the year and broadcast and print media will be used as campaigning tools.

The campaign covers only the current budget period, which ends in February next year. However, the association hopes that it will continue beyond the current budget period, as it aims to increase the sustain- ability of and continuously improve the performance of the local stainless steel industry.