THE BOTTOM LINE
Small towns steel themselves for Trump tariff effects: Sad!
Industry body reckons US import tariffs will cause at least 7,500 lost SA jobs, and about R4bn in lost export earnings for manufacturers
Trade union Solidarity is in Brits today discussing the recently announced US import tariffs on steel and aluminium products and how this will affect South African metals exports in future.
The trade union has good reason to be concerned. The town in North West supports a range of industries, including for mining and vehicles. But like many such towns its manufacturing base has been whittled away over many years.The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) reckons the tariffs will cause at least 7,500 workers to lose their jobs. Companies likely to be hurt include diversified metals and mining group South32, steel maker ArcelorMittal SA, and aluminium products fabricator Hulamin.
Along with general policy malaise in South Africa’s steel and mining industries, critical parts of the domestic economy are now in further danger. The US tariffs became effective from June 1, so it is too early to tell exactly what effect they will have, including on foreign exchange earnings.
But Seifsa estimates the tariffs will directly cost South African exporters about R3-billion annually for steel products and about R474-million for aluminium.
Solidarity says the South African steel and aluminium industry has undergone “serious contraction over the past few years” and is already under huge pressure.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA has been surprisingly quiet about this matter. It is hoped it will add positively to the debate around the industry’s future.