South Africa Welcomes Aluminium Product Exclusions From US – Section 232 DutiesShea Bethell
Trade & Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies has welcomed a recent announcement regarding improved trade developments with the United States as a positive step towards normalising relations between South Africa and The United States. This follows an announcement made by the US Department of Commerce stating that the department has granted exemptions for certain steel and aluminium products.
In a statement, the Department of Trade and Industry said; “The exemption of some of the aluminium and steel lines confirms that South Africa remains a source of strategic primary and secondary products used in further value-added manufacturing in the US, does not threaten US national security and contributes to jobs in both countries,”
Product exemptions for 161 aluminium and 36 steel products were granted from Section 232 duties. Foreign imports of these products had previously been imposed against by the US. In South Africa, there are over 800 US companies represented. Trade between the parties is relatively well balanced, with total trade reaching up to R161.4 Billion in 2017.
In July, Davies met with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross at the Agoa forum (African Growth and Opportunity Act). South African Government used the forum to highlight its commitment to remain engaged with US authorities on country exemptions.
Trump’s Proclamation & The Exemptions
Back in March, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation imposing a 10% ad valorem tariff on imports of aluminium articles, and a 25% ad valorem tariff on imports of steel articles for “national security purposes”. The latest exemptions are applicable to US companies who made Commerce Department requests for certain products to be excluded from the Section 232 duties. Some of the products exempted for aluminium include foil, plates, sheets and strips and some of the steel products include hot and cold rolled sheets, and plates both cut and in coils.
These product exemptions will most certainly contribute towards the retention of jobs in the companies producing them. The South African government will continue to encourage domestic exporters to continually engage US buyers to request further product exemptions from Section 232 duties of South African imports. “While South Africa welcomes this important relief to our exports, government remains engaged with the US government and continues to request a country exemption,” the Department of Trade and Industry’s statement said.