Macsteel Settles HR Safeguard Case in South Africa
IOL reported that South Africa’s largest steel merchant MACSTEEL chief executive Mr Mike Benfield said the out-of-court settlement reached with the Department of Trade Industry and Competition last week would level the playing field for the downstream steel industry in South Africa. Mr Benfield said Macsteel settled out of court after the Department of Trade Industry and Competition, a day before the court hearing was scheduled, offered to suspend the safeguard duty on hot-rolled coil products for a period two years. We decided to take the offer and as a result we settled on the court’s steps, so to speak. The key component for us is that when safeguards come to an end, the Minister and the International Trade Commission cannot institute a safeguard for a particular product again for the next two years. The industry will enjoy a holiday from safeguard duties on hot-rolled coil for two years.”
He added “Our major objective in doing this was to ensure that we establish a far more level playing field in respect of how duties are looked at and deployed in this country in terms of the steel sector. We need our customers and the downstream industry to have far more choice when it comes to sourcing and procuring steel and ensure that ArcelorMittal South Africa is competitive in terms of pricing.”
Department of Trade Industry and Competition spokesperson Mr Sidwell Medupe said the settlement was as a result of the proposal from the department after consideration of the balance of factors. He said “An amicable solution arising from this settlement is in the best interest of all parties, without prejudice to any party. Trade instruments are administered through the ITA Act and decisions thereof are made in line with the applicable legislative provisions and WTO rules.”
Three years ago, Itac introduced a safeguard duty to cushion South Africa’s primary steel producer ArcelorMittal South Africa from the influx of cheap imports mainly from China. Macsteel approached the court last August after the duty was extended for another year on the basis that the extension was illegal.