Before 2015, trade & industry minister Rob Davies was a staunch critic of ArcellorMittal SA, to such an extent that he removed the 5% duty that was in place at the time. That was done in retaliation for ArcellorMittal SA’s policy of import parity pricing and its parent group’s repatriation of billions of profits out of the country. “So, we will continue to pursue tariff reduction in mature industries, such as steel, that produce high-value goods for downstream industries,” Davies said then. In 2015 everything changed: a black empowerment deal was concluded involving ArcellorMittal SA and well-known individuals, 10% custom duties were introduced and 12% safeguard duties followed in 2017. Significantly also, Davies’s view on duties made an about-turn; all of a sudden his view was that SA had “no choice” but to impose customs and safeguard tariffs on imports of certain steel products to protect the local industry. By “local industry” he must have meant ArcellorMittal SA, because everyt...

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