US tariffs: Minister Davies must present plan to stop job losses in steel sector

Issued by Dean Macpherson MP – DA Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry
02 May 2018 in News

The DA will write to the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Trade and Industry, Ms Joanmariae Fubbs, requesting that she invites Minister Rob Davies to explain what, if any contingency plans have been implemented to prevent job losses in the steel and aluminium industry resulting from tariffs imposed by the United States of America (USA).

It is estimated that a minimum of 7 500 workers in the steel and aluminum industry will lose their jobs after the USA rejected South Africa’s application for exemption from President Donald Trump’s import duties.

On the 5th of April 2018, I met with the US Consular General in South Africa where I emphasised that our aluminum is highly specialised and would not affect US manufacturing. In fact, a disruption of SA aluminum imports would drive up the cost of production for US manufacturers and harm their aluminum sector.

Minister Rob Davies needs to provide a detailed account of the reasons given by the US to decline South Africa’s application for exemption from the steel tariffs. We also need clarity on the role played by the US trade representatives in South Africa in informing the decision taken by the US government.

While governments may wish to protect its own industries from unfair competition, we believe blanket protectionism is not the answer. Developing economies, such as South Africa, that have high unemployment rates are often the hardest hit and this only serves to perpetuate the cycle of global poverty.

The DA looks forward to receiving a detailed plan from the Minister on the steps that will be taken by his Department to ensure thousands of workers will not lose their jobs.