Johannesburg, 9 May 2019 – The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) welcomes the increase in output in the broader manufacturing sector in March 2019, despite a difficult operating environment.

Speaking after the release of manufacturing production figures by Statistics South Africa, SEIFSA Economist Marique Kruger said against the backdrop of a corresponding decline in business confidence and volatility in input costs, the improvement in production for March is encouraging.

The latest preliminary data, released today, captures an increase in output in the manufacturing sector, in line with a positively-trending manufacturing data from the beginning of the year. This is the third month from January 2019 that the manufacturing production data has been on the increase, following a positive growth of 0.8 percent recorded in January 2019 and 0.5 percent recorded in February 2019. Ms Kruger said the trend is encouraging as it filters down to the performance of the Metals and Engineering (M&E) cluster of industries, which are under duress.

“The stagnant domestic demand, nondescript consumer confidence, rebounding business expectation and low business confidence, including volatile input costs, have collectively really boxed businesses into a corner. The domestic operational environment for businesses is indeed worrisome, with extended implications for employment. However, the expectation is for businesses in the M&E cluster and broader manufacturing to remain resilient in the face of the current difficulties, pending a clear policy direction and certainty following the sixth democratic general elections this week,” Ms Kruger said.

SEIFSA is a National Federation representing 23 independent employer Associations in the metals and engineering industries, with a combined membership of 1600 companies employing around 200 000 employees. The Federation was formed in 1943 and its member companies range from giant steel-making corporations to micro-enterprises employing fewer than 50 people.