South Africa says U.S. exempts it from some steel, aluminum tariffs

25 October 2018

South Africa said on Wednesday that the United States had granted some local steel and aluminum producers exemptions from tariffs imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump this year.

Trump’s decision to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum riled metals producers worldwide, though some major exporting nations secured exemptions for all their steel and aluminum products.

The U.S. Department of Commerce granted exemptions for 161 aluminum and 36 steel products made by companies whose U.S. customers asked for the exemptions, South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Wednesday.

Exempted products included aluminum foil and aluminum plates, sheets and strip, as well as steel hot-rolled bars, hot-rolled sheets, cold-rolled sheets, plates cut and plates in coils, the DTI said.

Shares in ArcelorMittal’s South African unit, which produces some of the products covered by the exemptions, were up 8 percent at 1044 GMT.

The DTI, which earlier warned the tariffs could lead to job losses in manufacturing and mining, said it was still trying to get exemptions for all South African steel and aluminum products.

South African exports of aluminum products account for about 1.6 percent of total U.S. aluminum imports.

“The exemption of these products will contribute towards ensuring that jobs in companies producing these products are retained,” the DTI said.

Job cuts are a hot-button issue in South Africa, which is faced with near-record unemployment of about 27 percent and subdued growth in mining and manufacturing.