Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. FILE PHOTO: (dti)

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) said on Friday that the South African government has made a formal submission to the US government requesting the exclusion of South Africa from the imposition of Section 232 duties on steel and aluminium. 

The dti said that the Ambassador of South Africa to the US, Mninwa Mahlangu, has engaged with the White House National Security Council Staff, State Department and the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) in this regard. 

In addition, the dti said that the minister of trade and industry Rob Davies had a teleconference with Ambassador CJ Mahoney, the Deputy United States Trade Representative for Investment, Services, Labor, Environment, Africa, China and the Western Hemisphere on Thursday which provided an opportunity for discussions on the matter.

This comes after US President Donald Trump earlier this month announced the signing of a proclamation to impose a 10 percent ad valorem tariff on imports of aluminium articles and a 25 percent ad valorem tariff on imports of steel articles from countries excluding Canada and Mexico, to be implemented from 23 March 2018. 

The proclamation follows reports from the US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, that imports of these products threaten to impair US national security. 

It also makes provision for country-based exclusions from the duties should the US and that country arrive at a satisfactory alternative means to address the threat to the national security. 

In its submission, the dti emphasised that South African exports of aluminium products per annum are equivalent to about 1.6 percent of total US aluminum imports. These products consist of specialised aluminium sheet, coil and plate for processing in the US automotive, battery and aerospace industries. 

South Africa's exports to the US on steel amounted to U.S.$950 million in 2017 and accounted for 1.4 percent of U.S.’s global imports. In the case of aluminium, the SA exports were U.S.$375 million in 2017, accounting for 1.6 percent of US imports from all global suppliers. 

South Africa also assured the US that to a very large extent, the inputs for all steel and aluminium product exports to the US were sourced from local producers and that South Africa has a robust customs control system which prevents circumvention.

The dti said that South Africa acknowledges the adverse effects of global steel overcapacity, and that the domestic steel sector has been severely impacted by low priced steel and steel product imports and as a result South Africa has implemented a number of trade remedy measures.  

In addition, SA supports and participates in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and G20 multilateral process to achieve outcomes of a fair, sustainable and viable steel industry in the future. 

Davies will on Monday hold a media briefing on the Section 232 duties imposed by the US and on the launch of the African Continent Free Trade Area.

- African News Agency (ANA)