JOHANNESBURG, 11 JUNE 2021 – The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) welcomes the launch of the Steel Master Plan (SMP) which sets the foundation for the development and growth of the Metals and Engineering (M&E) sector.
The SMP focuses on short-to-medium term interventions that build on the ongoing measures being implemented to ensure the longer term growth, protection and survival of the primary and secondary steel industries and comes at a time when the challenges facing the steel industry require urgent intervention, particularly now when the COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the strain caused by these challenges.
Mr Lucio Trentini, SEIFSA Operations Director affirmed that “the challenges along the way will be complex, but this is the time for all stakeholders, including Government, Business and Labour to come together in agreeing on measures to preserve South Africa’s stee producing capacity, whilst protecting downstream users.”
He emphasised that “whilst SEIFSA stands ready to take the lead and play its part, there will be no easy or quick fix.” He stressed that “the industry has to work together and balance downstream and upstream needs.”
Mr Trentini indicated all stakeholders are unanimous in the belief that the country needs a primary steel industry. With rampant unemployment, poverty and inequality, it is vital that plans to reindustrialise the sector inclusive of the primary steel and downstream industries employing in excess of 200 000 employees do not fail. The M&E Sector is a strategic industry for South Africa. The National Development Plan is largely dependent on steel and South Africa needs steel – thus the viability, sustainability and competitiveness of the sector is in all our interests.
For Trentini, allowing local companies across the value chain and communities that depend on steel to suffer closure is unthinkable. He stressed historical trends in the M&E Sector show that “if some parts of our local industry close, there will be no way to revive them. It is therefore vital to support efforts to revive them.”
The SMP, the biggest and most ambitious intervention in the sector to date, offers an opportunity for all stakeholders to play their part in designing and implementing well positioned policy interventions focusing on how to grow demand. The SMP recognises the need for trade and support measures for the upstream and
downstream industries necessary to help the M&E Sector to survive in the short, mid and long term.
Mr Trentini stressed that for the SMP to meet its objectives, it must be supported and driven by industry, working collaboratively with leaders from organised labour, business and senior government officials. In the final analysis, the success of the SMP will therefore rest with the industry. SEIFSA, which represents a wide range of firms both big and small in the M&E Sector with a collective employee headcount in excess of 168 000, is ideally positioned to take the lead in representing the views of business across the industry, upstream and downstream.