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JOHANNESBURG, 1 FEBRUARY 2021 – The COVID-19 pandemic came at a time when South Africa’s Metals and Engineering (M&E) and broader manufacturing sector was already struggling as a result of falling demand, rising power costs and erratic supply and rising imports, among other challenges.

While it is hoped that interventions such as President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic stimulant recovery plan will provide some relief for industry players, recent economic data shows that the sector has a long and difficult road ahead to recovery.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) will launch its flagship State of the Metals and Engineering Sector Report 2021-2022, on 26 February 2021. The report is a comprehensive review of the industry over the past year, taking into account local and external economic variables.

This year’s report will delve into the extent to which the pandemic has affected the industry and looks into the prospects of recovery in a struggling economy. It takes a deep dive across all the 13 sub-sectors represented in the SEIFSA classification of the M&E sector, which represents 29% of the total manufacturing sector in South Africa.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc in the M&E industry and will continue to do so, certainly this year and possibly well into next year, given the possibilities of multiple waves before the virus is finally brought under control. However, it is important to note that the sector was already struggling before the advent of the pandemic,” said SEIFSA Chief Economist Chifipa Mhango.

It is for this reason that the report is more than just a review of the year that was: “This year’s report will help us understand the challenges the sector is facing, supported by data from empirical analysis.  It will allow us to suggest broader policy interventions to the Government,” he said.

Mr Mhango said this year’s report will provide an industry forecast, taking both the upcoming State of the Nation and the 2021/22 national budget to be presented by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. He said the report will offer real solutions to charting a sustainable future for the M&E industry.

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