JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A tariff on steel imports to the United States could hurt the South African sector which has battled against cheap imports and slow economic growth dampening construction, an industry group said on Monday.
The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA), an employer federation representing the metal and engineering industry, said it is concerned the implementation of the tariff could decrease local production.
“The latest developments have the potential of further dampening production in the local steel industry, reducing steel exports to the U.S., squeezing margins and depriving the steel industry of much-needed foreign reserves,” SEIFSA chief economist Michael Ade said in statement.
The U.S. Commerce Department has recommended steep curbs on steel and aluminum imports ranging from global and country-specific tariffs to broad import quotas, including a tariff of at least 53 percent on all steel imports from 12 countries, including South Africa.
South Africa imposed a three-year emergency safeguard tariff on imports of certain flat hot-rolled steel products last year to protect the local industry.
Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Ed Stoddard and David Evans