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Import protection granted to ArcelorMittal SA is a slap in the face for local manufacturers who need to buy steel at competitive prices to be competitive. All attempts to stop the implementation of safeguard duties have failed. According to an announcement by the Department of Trade and Industry, safeguard duties came into effect on August 11. From this date import duties of 22% (10% customs and 12% safeguard duties) will be paid on all imports of hot rolled steel. After the visit by Lakshmi Mittal, the owner of ArcelorMittal, to President Jacob Zuma, and the resulting broad-based black economic empowerment deal announced by ArcelorMittal SA, it was quite clear that the implementation of safeguard duties were inevitable, regardless of all the arguments to the effect that the introduction was nonsensical and would be seriously harmful to the downstream industry. The Department of Trade and Industry’s consultation with the downstream industry was a farce, and was simply done to pay li...

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