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Michael Ade, SEIFSA Chief Economist

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa ( SEIFSA) is extremely concerned that the challenges of the local steel industry will only  worsen if the US Department of Commerce and the US International Trade Commissions’ (ITC) parallel investigations to determine  if American producers have been harmed by carbon and alloy steel wire rod imports from Italy, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine and/or the United Kingdom, prove positive.

SEIFSA Chief Economist Michael Ade said that affirmative determinations, coupled with the ITC final injury determinations, will result in the Commerce Department issuing anti-dumping orders and imposing relevant duties, thus increasing  local steel producers’ exporting costs and this will eventually squeeze their profit margins.

The Department of Commerce’s preliminary determinations indicate that producers/exporters in the seven countries have sold carbon and alloy wire rod in the United States at less than fair value.  Foreign companies that price their products in the U.S market below the cost of production or below prices in their home markets are subject to anti-dumping duties.

“Specifically, investigation of South Africa found that exporters dumped wire rod in the US at margins of 142.26 percent, collapsed entity known as Scaw Metals Group and Consolidated Wire Industries) based on adverse facts available. All other producers/exporters in South Africa were assigned a rate of 135.46 percent,” said Dr Ade.

De Ade said SEIFSA believes that the investigation by the US is a “tit-for-tat” retaliation for South African domestic steel industry successfully pushing for import tariffs and safeguard duties from cheap international imports. He said this highlights the long-term demerits of inward-looking protectionist trade policies.

He said the US enquiry appeared to be only the tip of the iceberg, and could be a precursor to extension to other domestic steel products, potentially resulting in many overseas trading partners starting to retaliate and to protect their steel industries.

“This is of grave concern to SEIFSA, given the strategic importance of the local steel industry. The need for unity, including support for a sector-related Government policy stance from all stakeholders across the value chain of the local steel industry, is imperative,” emphasised Dr Ade.

The US Department of Commerce is currently scheduled to announce its final anti-dumping determinations on 9 January 2018.  SEIFSA will continue to monitor the situation closely.

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