FIRED UP: The steel and engineering industry has a strong base in East London and Port Elizabeth.Picture: Bloomberg

JOHANNESBURG - The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) has urged government to consider additional measures to protect local metal and engineering manufacturers from cheaper and subsidised imports.

Seifsa's chief executive, Kaizer Nyatsumba, said on Monday that the influx of cheaper imports had eroded the competitiveness of local businesses, bringing key sub-sectors within manufacturing to the brink of collapse.

"The government must do more to support fragile sectors from the unfair competition posed by subsidised imports," Nyatsumba said in a statement.

"The sector had not fully recovered from the 2008 global financial crisis. Instead, circumstances in the sector have deteriorated, with a number of our members either down-scaling their operations or closing down. We need an urgent intervention to protect the sector and create jobs."

Also read: Seifsa indaba seeks solutions to job losses

This comes as Seifsa will host the 3rd Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba 2017 next month where global competitiveness of manufacturers would be discussed. 

Recent economic data paints a picture of subdued conditions in the sector. The seasonally adjusted Absa Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) declined by 3.8 points to 42.9 in July, a level last seen in the second half of 2009. 

Manufacturing is considered the engine of growth and employment as it is one of the largest contributors to South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

Nyatsumba said the South African economy needed a vibrant and competitive manufacturing sector. 

"That is because, other than supporting other key sectors of the economy, manufacturing has more potential to create jobs and should be on the cutting edge of research and development as well as innovation," Nyatsumba said.

 - African News Agency (ANA)