As the US Department of Commerce granted product exemptions for imports of 161 aluminium and 36 steel products from the Section 232 duties that the US imposed against foreign imports, South Africa has welcomed the decision
President Trump signed a proclamation imposing a 10 per cent ad valorem tariff on imports of aluminium articles and a 25 per cent ad valorem tariff on imports of steel articles for national security purposes. The product exemptions are applicable to companies whose buyers in the United States made requests to the Commerce Department for the products to be excluded from the Section 232 duties.
The government of South Africa made submissions to the US government requesting a country exemption from Section 232 duties. In addition, South Africa urged the domestic exporters of steel and aluminium to encourage their buyers and distributors to consider applying for product exemption.
In line with government’s commitment to remain engaged with the US authorities on the country exemption, minister Davies met with US trade representative ambassador Lighthizer and secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross on the margins of the AGOA Forum in July 2018 in Washington DC.
Minister Davies welcomes these positive developments as a step towards normalising trade relations between South Africa and the US. More than 800 American companies are represented in South Africa and the trade between the Parties is relatively balanced with total trade reaching US$11.09bn in 2017.
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.
The products that have been exempted for aluminium include aluminium foil and aluminium plates, sheets and strip. In relation to steel, the products include the hot rolled bars, hot rolled sheets, cold rolled sheets, plates cut and plates in coils. The exemption of these products will contribute towards ensuring that jobs in companies producing these products are retained.
South Africa continues to encourage its domestic exporters to engage US buyers to consider requesting product exemption from Section 232 duties of all imports from South Africa.