The National Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile has on Friday, assured SA steel industry that the government was aware of their challenges and would do its best to intervene.
The local steel industry has recently been battling to survive as it is being affected by global steel overcapacity and cheaper Chinese imports among other factors.
But Fuzile, who was addressing workers at the Metals and Engineering Indaba in Johannesburg on behalf of the finance minister Pravin Gordhan, narrated how important the SA steel industry is to the implementation of the government’s development plans adding that the government would not allow it to fall.
“At the outset, I must say that as government, we are neither blind nor ignorant of the challenges that the manufacturing sector is going through. And, of course, we are alive to the importance of the sector to the well-being of the economy,” said Fuzile.
Fuzile further added that local steel industry, which accounts for 1.5 percent of gross domestic product plays important role in bringing about industrialization among various other growth necessities outline in the Industrial Policy Action Plan, the National Development Plan and the nine-point plan.
“Government has recognized the importance of the steel crisis and what its implications are for industries and the economy broadly and is working on numerous measures to intervene,” said Fuzile as he added that the Department of Trade and Industry had met producers and users of steel.
“(They) have accordingly agreed, through those processes, a package of measures (to) support the industry. So far, one of the very important measures has been the increase in the tariffs to the maximum of what the World Trade Organisation allows with the view to ensure that we protect domestic production from the influx of cheap steel, in some cases from countries that subsidise their industries, thus enabling them to sell steel cheaper,” he said.
The government has however, set up a multi-departmental steel task team to implement various measures and to monitor developments that would impact on the SA steel industry. Fuzile added that this is necessary so that it can advise government to develop measures that will help the industry cope with whatever negatives measures arise from time to time.