August 15, 2018 / 1:50 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa hikes sugar import duties to protect local industry

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CAPE TOWN, Aug 15 (Reuters) - South Africa has raised import duties on sugar to $680 from $566 a tonne to protect the domestic industry against a surge in imports, the trade and industry minister said on Wednesday.

The South African Sugar Association applied in February to have the tariff raised to $856 a tonne, but the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC), which conducts customs tariff investigations and proposes trade remedies, set a lower import duty.

“While the level is not at the maximum bound rate as initially requested by the industry in the application, the $680 per tonne will provide the immediate relief urgently required by the industry and sufficient trade protection against the surge of imports,” trade minister Rob Davies said in a statement.

He said in arriving at its determination, ITAC considered the domestic cost of production with key input costs identified as fertilizer, chemicals, electricity, transport and labour.

The sugar industry contributes around 14 billion rand to South Africa’s gross domestic product and employs 85,000 people directly and another 350,000 indirectly in the main sugar-growing regions of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces. Major local producer Tongaat Hulett said in May it intends expanding into Africa as part of a strategy to bulk up in the central and southern regions of the continent. The firm partly blamed sugar imports for a fall in profits. (Reporting by Wendell Roelf Editing by James Macharia)

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