Localisation rethink can create local jobs

A sensible and pragmatic approach to localisation would benefit deserving South African industries and create local jobs, according to Eustace Mashimbye, CEO of Proudly South African.

In an article in Business Report, Mashimbye urged supporters and opponents of localisation to “put aside their ideological blinkers”. Internationally, views were changing on trade, tariffs, localisation and national security.

He called on people to be more pragmatic and adaptable, and follow evidence-based policies.

“Evidence shows that localisation works in the right cases.”

Mashimbye said the South African cement industry needed support, as it was being disrupted by foreign producers dumping excess supply at erratic intervals. This reduced local investment and, ultimately, put security of supply at risk.

Targeted tariffs could play a vital role in encouraging investment while ensuring sustainability in a critical sector.

“The same can be said about similarly labour-intensive sectors such as the clothing, textiles, footwear and leather (CTFL) and the poultry sectors.”

This was not just a South African phenomenon.

“In the US, the Biden administration has applied tariffs to Chinese solar panel imports to help sustain and grow the American renewable energy industry. If the world’s most advanced economies can benefit from trade protection, why shouldn’t developing economies benefit from the same targeted policies?”

Mashimbye called on all stakeholders to abandon ideological positions and work together to find pragmatic solutions suited to the times.

“A demand for local goods begets a demand for local jobs, and this can only be achieved with stringent pro-South African policies,” he said.