World watches US-China trade spat

In the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies, could China have found its trump card — the humble soybean?

In retaliation to United States President Donald Trump’s plan to impose high import duties on Chinese steel and aluminium imports, China has threatened to retaliate with similarly high duties on 106, mostly agricultural, US imports, such as pork, maize and soybeans. It’s aimed to hit Trump where it hurts most — his core constituency.

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South Africa should care about the US-China trade turf

South Africa has found itself in the middle of a potential trade war between the United States and China. As the old adage goes ― when two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled. In this case, it will be smaller countries who could bear the brunt.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump signed a proclamation implementing new trade policies including 25% tariffs on Chinese exports, intended to recover at least $50-billion in annual economic harm.

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Highveld Steel ticks over, gearing up to rise once again

Not long ago, the Highveld Steel iron plant was a place of flames, fire, thunder and lightning. Now, it’s eerie and silent, a site that is slowly being commandeered by the elements.

On one side of the open-air plant are rusted kilns, which, for decades, processed iron ore from Highveld Steel’s nearby Mapochs mine. On the other side is an abandoned two-storey blast furnace, where the ore was smeltered at 1 600°C before it was taken to the steel plant.

Beyond the site on the horizon is Kusile, which, once completed, will be the fourth-largest coal-fired power station in the world. Despite the fact that Highveld Steel is the only manufacturer of structural steel in Africa and is just 24km down the road, none of its production was used in Kusile’s construction.

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Our chance to fix poultry industry

South Africa has to export more and this requires a particular mindset. Mostly, we don’t have that and so we can’t get exporting to work for us as it should.

South Africa largely exports only agricultural and agro-processed products, minerals and vehicles, though there would probably be no vehicle exports if the industry was not subsidised.

If we want to expand our share of the global export market then we have to realise this is completely dependent on being competitive.

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Steel industry needs to pull together to fight import risks

In light of the recently implemented safeguard duty on hot-rolled steel, continued collaboration among stakeholders is necessary to protect the steel industry against the influx of steel imports, said consulting firm XA International Trade Advisors director Donald Mackay on Tuesday.
Speaking at a steel industry workshop, in Johannesburg, focusing on the safeguard tariff, Mackay added that the industry needed to focus on solutions that would benefit the entire sector.

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Eskom downgrade has AMSA CEO worried about steel

With ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service cutting State power utility Eskom’s credit to two notches below investment grade on Wednesday, ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) CEO Wim de Klerk expressed his concern about the downgrade’s impact on the local steel industry.

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Reporter’s Parliamentary Notebook: The chickens are coming home to roost in the poultry and banking sectors

Chickens. Banks. Different sectors, same issues: transformation (radical or not), government (in)action and economic growth, or lack thereof. It’s not a case of why did the chicken cross the road, it’s why did the frozen chicken cross the ocean? Or, in the case of the banks and the broader financial services sector, who really owns whom? Two days of public hearings by Parliament’s trade and industry committee, including one alongside the finance committee, highlighted the role of foreign ownership in South Africa’s economy, transformation in trouble, and structural inequalities. By MARIANNE MERTEN.

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What to expect on trade agreements front in 2017

As far as trade agreements are concerned, 2016 was an unprecedented year, with significant activity occurring that had never been witnessed in the past decade.
The Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union and South Africa’s first trade agreement with South America, the Common Market of the South, or Mercosur, were implemented in the second half of 2016.

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When a good idea – controlling medicine prices – goes bad

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi recently announced a maximum increase of 7.5% in the single exit price of medicines.

The exit price manages the price at which retailers can sell the product. It guarantees that the poor are not ripped off by Big Pharma looking to make a quick buck, which seems like a good idea.

But a managed exit price has some interesting consequences, one of which materialised when the idea was first implemented.

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Dawn of a new trade dispensation

The implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) from October 10 marks the beginning of a new trade regime between Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) member States and the EU.

With the exception of South Africa, all Sacu member States have 100% access to the EU market. This means that they can export anything besides arms and ammunition to the EU duty free. However, in some cases, duty-free access applies up to an agreed quota, while, in a few cases, duties are in place, but at lower levels.

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Importers and exporters take note: trade deal with South America is in effect

The year 2016 will certainly go down as a big one for trade agreements.

Two major agreements were implemented in October: on October 10, the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA); and on October 21, the Southern African Customs Union’s (Sacu’s) preferential trade agreement with South American bloc Mercusor.

A preferential trade agreement provides preferential duties on specific products identified in the agreement. Although a preferential trade agreement may result in elimination of duties on some products covered, it typically results in duties being reduced.

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Nuts and bolts: Group to ask for maximum tariffs

IOL pic bloom rsa money R2 coins in a rowJohannesburg – The SA Fasteners Manufacturers Association (Safma) will on Friday ask the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) of South Africa to apply maximum tariffs on imported fasteners, such as set screws, nuts and bolts, chairman Rob Pietersma said yesterday.

Itac is currently conducting a review on the duty structures of various downstream steel products, including fasteners. The review covered R23.5 billion worth of imports in the period between June last year and May this year. The value of imported fasteners in that period was R2.5bn.

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Duties on bolts and nuts squashed


Johannesburg – The International Trade Administration Commission of SA (Itac) has terminated anti-dumping duties on bolts and nuts imported from the People’s Republic of China, according to an Itac report. Itac has asked Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies to terminate the anti-dumping duties with effect from August 5.

This follows the decision by local manufacturers of bolts and nuts to supply information that would have enabled the commission to review the anti-dumping duties.

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President Trump would be bad news globally but much of what he says is just hot air

If Donald Trump takes office as president of the United States and implements the promises he has made, it will be worse than Brexit.

Although the Republican candidate’s economic speech, delivered in Detroit this week, outlined proposals that would wreak havoc on the world’s economy, the markets didn’t take it seriously and were unmoved.

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Invoertarief op suiker verlaag

SuikerrietDie invoertarief op suiker is onlangs deur Itac verlaag, maar kundiges in die bedryf twyfel egter of dit ’n wesenlike invloed sal hê op suikerrietprodusente.

Die invoertarief op suiker is op 3 Augustus vanjaar met bykans 40% van R2 395/ton na R1 443/ton verlaag.

Volgens mnr. Donald MacKay, direkteur van XA Internasionale Handelskonsultante, kom die verlaging nadat die internasionale prys van suiker oor die afgelope paar maande skerp gestyg.

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It’s vital to speak up in review of duties on steel

A REALLY important development took place two weeks ago and it is alarming that so few affected companies know about it.

The International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) initiated a review of the customs duties on a really wide variety of products that contain steel. So wide, in fact, that it covers R23.5bn worth of imports for the past 12 months.

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Tariff review of downstream industry could be a game changer for local steel sector


Wow, a lot is happening with steel in the trade protection space, with potentially far-reaching implications for the whole country.

Last year the South African Iron and Steel Institute, as well as ArcelorMittal and Highveld Steel (when it was still a going concern), applied to the International Trade and Administration Commission (Itac) for a duty increase to the bound rate (the maximum allowable duty rate) for a wide range of steel products. This is 10% for most forms of primary steel.

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Getting wheat, maize and sugar duties wrong, may cause frightening inflation

A DUTY restructure is on the cards for wheat, maize and sugar. This is a complicated but important process to go through. If we get the duties wrong on these products we end up with farmers not wanting to plant and if the duties are too high, then mainly poor consumers will be faced with even more frightening food inflation.

Most duties on most products are calculated as a percentage of the value of the goods (known as an ad valorem duty). The duties on wheat, maize and sugar are different and are imposed as a fixed value per kilogram, but determined by something known as the dollar-based reference price.

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Zimbabwean licence requirement
not a ban on listed products


ON JUNE 17 Zimbabwe gazetted Statutory Instrument 64, which makes it a requirement for importers of certain products to produce an import licence on importation of certain products. The listed products can be categorised into certain food stuffs, personal care products, building materials, furniture and some industrial products.

While the media has been awash with articles on this matter, a significant number of articles have construed the licence requirement as a ban on imports of the listed products. This is incorrect. There is a distinction between an import licence and a ban. If a product is banned this means a complete prohibition of importing the specific product, which is not the case. An import licence enables the authorities to control the import of specific products, which is the case with products listed in Statutory Instrument 64.

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Zim sal invoer wat hy nie produseer


Zimbabwe sal permitte uitreik vir die invoer van produkte wat nie in dié land self vervaardig word nie.

Suid-Afrikaanse ondernemings wat produkte na Zimbabwe uitvoer, moet druk op die Departement van Handel en Nywerheid plaas sodat daar oplossings gevind kan word vir die buurland se handelsversperrings.

Só sê mnr. Taapano Paradza, ʼn konsultant by XA International Trade Advisors. Hy sê druk is belangrik, anders gaan Zimbabwe net meer en meer versperrings daar stel. Sedert 17 Junie word lisensies vereis om ʼn lang lys produkte in Zimbabwe te kan invoer, terwyl permitte reeds ʼn geruime tyd vir sekere landbouprodukte vereis word.

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Protectionist sentiment coming to the fore in Zimbabwe

ZimProtectionist sentiment appears to be gaining momentum in Zimbabwe and could potentially impact on dozens of South African export products entering the neighbouring country duty free and, in some cases, at preferential duty rates.

In its latest move, Zimbabwe expanded the list of products that require an import licence to enter Zimbabwe. The newly listed products range from various food products, such as canned fruit and vegetables, jams, peanut butter, baked beans and coffee creamers, to body lotions, flat-rolled steel products, used tyres, furniture, fertilisers and the popular women’s artificial hair commonly known as weave.

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Durban processing delays threaten meat importers

Delays in the testing and processing of imported animal protein at the Durban Port, which has increased from three days to three weeks during the second quarter of 2016, are said to be threatening the survival of meat import companies. Samples of imported animal proteins are tested for a range of pathogens, often before departing their country of origin and, upon arrival in South Africa before being deemed fit for human consumption.

The delay is forcing meat importers to hold onto stock for longer periods because nothing can be destroyed without permits. As imports continue to come in, cold storage space is running out and the price of available space is “shooting through the roof”, said Donald MacKay, a director at XA International Trade Advisors.

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Scrap metal merchants rail against new export controls

Buyers and sellers in the scrap industry are worried about proposed changes relating to exports.

The government is seeking to increase controls on the export of scrap metal, but there are sellers and buyers alike who say there is no use tightening up an already flawed system.

The International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (Itac) is in the process of mulling inputs on its proposed amendments to the price preference system (PPS), which requires scrap merchants to first offer their product to local consumers at a discounted price, calculated monthly, for a set number of days. Proof of having done so with no resulting purchase is required before an export permit can be issued.

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When duty calls the state must separate the wheat from the chaff

In calculating the risk involved in crop planting, farmers need a predictable trade policy that will be implemented.


Those chaps at Grain SA don’t take any nonsense. When the trigger was reached for an increase in duties on wheat and treasury was vacillating with the implementation, the association took the treasury, minister of finance, the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (Itac), department of trade and industry and the minister of trade and industry to court on an urgent basis to see the duty immediately implemented.

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No cheap chicken, only fat margins

If South Africa cannot use trade policy to help our country grow its productive base, then what purpose does it serve?


I wasn’t invited to the MOAB (mother of all braais) held last week by United States ambassador Patrick Gaspard to celebrate the return of dumped US chicken-leg quarters – a consequence of which was renewed African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) trade concession benefits for our agricultural exporters.

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How much does a braai really cost?

Calculating the price of South Africa’s favourite pastime is a bit of a shocker when you add up the duty taxes on chicken, wheat, alcohol and steel.


I was invited by the United States ambassador to “the mother of all braais” (his words) to celebrate the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

Unfortunately, I can’t attend, but the invitation got me thinking.

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SA’s steel industry on brink of collapse

China’s over-supply is putting thousands of South African jobs at risk, but the state has been slow to respond.

The domestic steel industry is bleeding and stakeholders fear its death unless emergency protections are introduced soon.

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US steels itself against SA imports

While the local steel industry is seeking tariff protection, its US counterpart is – surprise! – petitioning for anti-dumping duties to be imposed.

The domestic steel industry is pushing for tariff protection from cheap imports – but, in a bizarre turn of events, steel producers in the United States have applied for anti-dumping tariffs to be placed on South African imports.

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US steels itself against SA imports


The domestic steel industry is pushing for tariff protection from cheap imports – but, in a bizarre turn of events, steel producers in the United States have applied for anti-dumping tariffs to be placed on South African imports.

Stranger still is that ArcelorMittal USA is one of the three applicants requesting anti-dumping duties and has identified ArcelorMittal South Africa as one of four companies that produce the import in question.

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Steel protection decision to be made by June

THE fate of the 200,000 jobs dependent on the domestic steel industry will be known by June when the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) is expected to make a decision on whether to grant aggressive protection to the sector.

The commission started its investigation into the application for a safeguard remedy made by the embattled steel industry last week.

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Threat to SA cement producers confirmed

Johannesburg – A looming competitive threat to South African-based cement producers from exports from China has been confirmed.

Thato Chabeli, the interim group manager marketing, public relations and communications at the SA Bureau of Standards (SABS), confirmed yesterday “two schemes” for Longkou Fanlin Cement had been approved by the SABS.

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More tariff protection sought by steel industry

Steel+coils++xxxTHE International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) is to make a recommendation within the next four months whether or not to increase duties in 77 steel product codes.

The South African Iron and Steel Institute, ArcelorMittal SA and Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium have all applied for the maximum 10% allowed for tariff protection from cheap imports.

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ArcelorMittal asks for more protection

ArcelorMittal+Vanderbijlpark+XXX+high+resARCELORMITTAL SA will ask the government for tariff protection on all of its products and it will seek specific trade remedies for some, such as antidumping duties, safeguard duties and countervailing duties, CEO Paul O’Flaherty said this week.

It is the biggest move for protection by an industry in more than 20 years and shows how much the future of Africa’s largest steel producer is threatened by cheaper imports. It comes in addition to an application for a 10% import tariff already made.

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Sink makers call for higher China duties

Stainless+steel+sink+XXXSOUTH Africa’s largest producer of stainless steel sinks has asked for a review of antidumping duties on stainless steel sinks from China and Malaysia as the existing duties are about to expire, which will leave the local industry exposed to potential dumping from these countries.

Franke Kitchen Systems not only wants the duties to remain in place for another five years, but is asking the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) to increase the duties to 586% from 62.4% for China and to 831.68% from 95.8% for Malaysia.

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Davis pauses on extra trade restrictions on frozen chips

Potato+chips+XXX+high+res+TRADE and Industry Minister Rob Davies has put a temporary lid on additional trade restrictions imposed on imports of frozen potato chips.

This particularly applies to frozen chips coming into the Southern Africa Customs Union (Sacu) market from Belgium and the Netherlands.

Mr Davies suspended the recommended introduction of antidumping duties, which would have come on top of existing safeguard duties on potato chips from all countries, excluding developing countries, until the safeguard duties expire in 2016.

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Anti-dumping move could go to court

443560626The International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) has made a final determination on the anti-dumping duties on Portland cement originating or imported from Pakistan, imposing duties ranging between 14.29 percent and 77.15 percent.

This final determination seems likely to result in Pakistan cement producer Lucky Cement proceeding with a high court application to set aside the imposition of the anti-dumping duties.

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Agoa is not just about the chicken

Chicken+farm+XXXTHERE has been a lot of noise over the last few weeks after President Barack Obama threatened to suspend some of SA’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) privileges if we didn’t deal with the issue of market access for US chicken, beef and pork products.

We were given 60 days to get our house in order. The South African public put all sorts of absurd theories forward, as only we can do.

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