Davies urges tariff exemption on South African steel and aluminium

Rob DaviesRob Davies is the minister of trade and industry in South Africa. (Image source: GovernmentZA/Flickr)The minister of trade and industry, Dr Rob Davies has reiterated that South Africa’s steel and aluminium does not pose any threat to the US national security, during bilateral meetings in Washington DC with the US trade representative ambassador Robert Lighthizer and the secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross, as well as senators Chris Coons and Johnny Isakson

According to Davies, South Africa’s exports of steel to the US accounted for less than one per cent of total US imports and 0.3 per cent of total US steel demand. Although this represents a small fraction of US imports, SA exports of steel to the US accounted for five per cent of SA production equating to 7,500 jobs in the steel value chain.

South Africa supplies specialised aluminium sheet, coil and plate for automotive, battery, and aerospace industries in the United States. In light this, Davies indicated, “It is clear that SA does not pose a threat to US national security and the steel and aluminium industries but it is a source of strategic primary and secondary steel used in further value-added manufacturing in the US.”

Earlier, the US decided to impose Section 232 duties on imports of steel and aluminium including South Africa on the basis of national security objectives.

Davies also expressed his concern on the on-going Section 232 investigation on automobiles and auto components. In this regard, he indicated that SA accounted for 0.4 per cent of total US imports of automotive products.

“The development integration agenda that the African Continent pursues provides huge opportunities for cooperation between the US and the Continent. The African Continent's key objective is to change the structure of our economies and there is a potential for practical cooperation between South Africa and the US in promoting business-business commercial trade and investment relations,” said Davies.

The Forum brought together Trade Ministers from AGOA-eligible countries, US government, private sector and civil society to discuss the implementation of AGOA under the theme “Forging New Strategies for US-Africa Trade and Investment Forum.”

The ministers encouraged the US to engage with Africa as a bloc through the AU in the development of the architecture for the post-2025 trade and investment relationship rather than with individual countries. This follows the announcement by Lighthizer that the US plans to negotiate an FTA with an African country that would serve as a model for other countries in the continent.

Lindiwe Zulu, minister of small business development, noted, “South Africa remains committed to the implementation of the AGOA Partnership aimed at boosting trade and investment ties between Sub-Saharan Africa and the USA, and deepening practical cooperation at the enterprise to enterprise level. This cooperation will provide opportunities for local SMMEs to participate in regional and global value-chains and build their capacities to compete globally.”

In addition, Davies also had discussions at a US think tank, Atlantic Council, under the theme “Investing in South Africa’s Future: Conversation with Minister Rob Davies.”

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