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A thumbs up for trade policy statements

Recent trade and localisation policy statements herald welcome relief for South African industries such as textiles, sugar and poultry that have been hammered by dumped and predatory imports.

Master plans for these industries aim to stabilise and revive them by curbing imports and stimulating local production, exports and job creation. Government’s recent announcements on trade and localisation will help to achieve these objectives.

FairPlay welcomes the many positive features in the statements, particularly the government’s commitment to fair competition and to combatting “unfair and injurious” imports. This would include not only the dumped chicken imports which have cost local jobs, but also any circumvention of import duties.

“We will also continue to strengthen coordination with SARS to eliminate illicit trade and the under-invoicing of imports that cause enormous damage to the economy in revenue, lost jobs and industrial capacity,” the trade policy statement says. “These efforts also require stronger collaboration with the relevant authorities of our trading partners.” 

The policy also promotes exports, which will be served by a stronger and expanded local industry. That expansion, in turn, will be helped by the increased local demand that will result from the drive to buy local chicken.

For industries battered by decades of dumped and predatory imports, it’s good news all round.

Government wants to speed up tariff decisions

Another welcome aspect of the trade policy statement is the intention to get quicker decisions on tariff applications.

“SA will step up efforts to ensure that trade defence instruments are deployed effectively against unfair and injurious imports,” the statement says. 

“In this regard we are reviewing the applicable legislation to streamline the application and investigation processes to enable swift and more effective action.”

Local industries have been frustrated by the slow and laborious process needed to get anti-dumping duties approved. Anti-dumping applications take months to research and formulate and then the investigation by the local regulator, ITAC, can take a further year to 18 months. It passes its recommendation to government for a final evaluation and decision.

Swift and more effective action would be a vast improvement.