Steel prices hurt localisation drive

Trade, industry & competition minister Ebrahim Patel stated the obvious in his budget speech recently by saying that “SA’s import to GDP ratio is too high for a country that desperately needs more jobs”. He was also on point in stating that “competitiveness and industrial agility are critical to longer-run localisation efforts”. Downstream steel users complain that steel prices are being raised almost weekly by ArcelorMittal SA. Opposition to the extension of safeguard duties on steel imports is intensifying, with the country’s leading merchant challenging the extension of the duties in court and with others even questioning the economic benefits of sustaining a primary steel producer. Michael Avery spoke to ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) CEO Kobus Verster; Mike Benfield, CEO of SA’s largest steel merchant Macsteel; & Talib Sadik, former CEO of Denel.