ITAC self-initiated a review into the duties on tinplate imported under tariff subheadings 7210.11, 7210.12.10, 7210.12.90 and 7212.10, in February 2020 (you can read more about this review here). This followed the closure of ArcelorMittal’s tinplate line in November 2019.
In the period November 2019 to June 2020, downstream users of tinplate imported R519m worth of tinplate from China and Japan, costing them R52m in duties, which serve no purpose. Given this was a self-initiated review and given that ArcelorMittal supported the removal of the duties, it is not clear why the duty was not swiftly removed.
The decision to rather initiate an investigation into the creation of a rebate, even if done swiftly, seems to serve no practical purpose, yet will add complexity to the cost of the rebate.
Even though interested parties only have until 7 September 2020 to respond, this still seems to be the incorrect instrument to be using to address this problem. The rebate will also be a temporary rebate, which means ITAC could be instructed to stop issuing import permits with no preceding investigation, as would happen in a normal tariff investigation. This uncertainty is not conducive to downstream investment in the sector. If you think such a ban is not possible, then take a look at the scrap metal sector who had their exports banned with no warning on 3 July 2020.
It is not clear how long it will take to implement the rebate, should that be the outcome of the investigation, but if we consider that it took over 6 months for the Minister to decide to switch from a duty removal to a rebate, we may see this duty remain in place for many months before the rebate is accessible. It is unlikely that the duties paid will be refundable either, so this is a dead cost to the industry, with no beneficiary on the other side of the decision.
However, if you are a consumer of tinplate, you do need to make your voice heard. Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help.