Today, DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Annette Steyn MP, DA Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry, Dean Macpherson MP, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Ghaleb Cachalia MP marched with sugar cane farmers to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Months ago, an application was submitted by the SA Sugar Association (SASA) to reinstate the sugar tariff and apply an increase in order to protect the local sugar cane industry from cheap imports. The DTI and International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC) have done nothing to address this application and have not consulted with the farmers.
Due to an administrative bungling by DTI and ITAC, for seven weeks in 2017, imports of sugar into South Africa were rated at zero. As a result, our local market was flooded by cheap imports putting jobs on the line.
Last year, between April and September, the tariffs were set far lower than they should have been. This led to another cheap import spike with approximately R1.9 billion worth of sugar compromising our sugar industry and jobs.
In the Western Cape the DA have shown that where there is a will to create jobs, it can be done. That is why 75% of all jobs created in South Africa over the last year, were crated in the Western Cape.
The continued bungling and lack of response from ITAC and the DTI is of great concern. According to SASA, it is putting 85,000 jobs on the line and threatens the livelihood of emerging small sugar farmers in South Africa.
Many of these farmers cannot compete with the flood of cheap sugar imports which is estimated at 25% of the total market. Coupled with the implementation of a sugar tax, this delayed adjustment has put the entire sugar industry under severe pressure.
The SA sugar industry is highly competitive and the tariff is not to shield it from competition but to protect it from dumping highly subsidised imports.
That is why the DA have joined the march and will continue to endeavour for the retention and creation of jobs in a country where millions of people are without work. We can ill afford adding to the already 9.5 million people unemployed in South Africa.
Annette Steyn – DA