PETER BRUCE: Steel yourself for Ebrahim Patel’s price controls, a loser’s game
The minister’s efforts to protect a small number of local industries is harming the entire economy
Way back in the mists of time ArcelorMittal (Amsa, formerly Iscor), SA’s only primary steelmaker (it makes steel out of its constituent minerals) was Enemy Number One at the department of trade & industry. Its then-minister, Rob Davies, so despised the company that he forbade Eskom from buying pylons made from Amsa steel.
The ANC wanted lower “developmental” prices on locally made steel, but Amsa wouldn’t budge. Then, one day in 2015, Lakshmi Mittal, the Indian steel tycoon who bought out Iscor in 2003, swooped in for a meeting at the Union Buildings with then president Jacob Zuma. There’s no record of their talk, but the results were electrifying. Davies dropped his opposition to Amsa and imposed stiff import duties to protect it...