Johannesburg, 21 September 2018 – Delegates attending the 4th Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba organised by the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) at the IDC Conference Centre in Sandton passed a resolution for Government to be effective in implementing and monitoring designation of local content.
During discussions in the 5th and 10th sessions, delegates expressed a strong need for the Government to be much more effective in monitoring the implementation of designation of local content in production processes across all value chains, and also expressed disappointment about the awarding of tenders by State-owned enterprises to foreign companies, when there is capacity for local businesses to manufacture the same products.
Delegates stressed the fact that designation of locally-sourced products (towards improving local content) should be complied with and that infrastructure investment without designation of products that can be sourced locally will be futile. However, delegates acknowledge that there may be instances where domestic capacity may be less than stated demand, owing to the contraction or closure of some sectors or in the event of new product ranges. In these instances, delegates felt that a temporary allowance for imports may be granted, after full utilization of domestic capacity, with the knowledge that the supply deficit would undoubtedly induce expansion investment.
During the 3rd, 6th and 10th sessions at the conference, delegates made up of captains of industry, labour leaders, academics and senior international partner organisations also called on the Government to include the local manufacturing industry, and the diverse metals and engineering cluster within it, in decision making regarding foreign and domestic direct investments in order to promote beneficiation and job creation. Specific reference was made to Chinese investments which are often concluded without involving business with potential negative effects on local jobs. Given that it is important to create jobs and not lose them, the delegates repeatedly highlighted the importance of investment deals to be concluded transparently and with the maximum participation of the local industry.
Recognizing the need for local manufacturers to be more competitive, in plenary session 8 delegates nevertheless called on Government to prioritize local businesses in all investment and construction projects, including Black Economic Empowerment partners in order to comply with South African rules designed to address racial disparities which continue to exist more than two decades after the end of apartheid.
During the 11th plenary session at the Indaba, delegates reflected on some constraints to South Africa’s international competitiveness, highlighting the need to benchmark the local cost curves with international standards with the aim of reducing skyrocketing costs. While also acknowledging the continuous efforts made by the government to protect local manufacturers from cheap, subsidized imports from Asia, via the imposition of necessary tariffs, delegates resolved that equal support should also be made available to the mid and downstream group of industries of the M&E cluster.
Delegates also resolved to call on the Government to reconsider its position on the introduction of a carbon tax in South Africa, arguing that it would amount to a production tax, which would further squeeze businesses’ margins. They warned that the introduction of carbon tax would impose additional costs to business, harm the economy and impact negatively on jobs at a time when South Africa badly needs more jobs to be created. Arguing that the country cannot afford carbon taxes, delegates said that it was vital for the Government to follow Australia’s example and abandon its plans to introduce carbon tax, as it did with its nuclear ambition earlier in the year.
Tel: (011) 298 9411 / 082 602 1725
Web: www.meindaba. seifsa.co.za