South Africa to engage US on steel, aluminium tariffs

The Department of Trade and Industry is engaging the United States on its decision to impose a global tariff of 25% on imports of steel and of 10% on imports of aluminium.

“The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) is fully engaged with the matter and has undertaken discussions with the United States in a number of forums,” said the department on Friday.

This as US President Donald Trump held a listening session with representatives from large steel and aluminium companies on Thursday. At the session, President Trump heard concerns relating to imports of steel and aluminium raised by US companies.

During the question and answer session, the President announced the decision to impose a global tariff of 25% on imports of steel and of 10% on imports of aluminium.

The duties will be applicable to all importers into the US market. This as the White House or the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and Commerce Department are yet to release an official statement on the duties or how the duties would be implemented.

In its reaction to the decision, the dti is meeting with South African companies that have export interests in the US to ascertain the possible impact of the proposed measures.

“The dti is also assessing the compatibility of the proposed measures with the rules of the World Trade Organisation,” it said.

South Africa steel exports

South Africa’s exports to the US of steel amounted to US$950 million in 2017 and accounted for 1.4% of the US’ global imports.

In the case of aluminium, South African exports were US$375 million in 2017, accounting for 1.6% of U.S. imports from all global suppliers.

“It is clear that South African exports do not impose a threat to US industry and jobs. South African exports are in some cases used as inputs into further processes in the US manufacturing sector thus contributing to US jobs and production,” said the department.

In addition, the department will brief the media on the matter soon.