‘Saving SA steel industry is govt’s priority’

A global glut of steel and falling prices have put the local steel industry under massive pressure.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN -Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies says the government is determined to maintain the country's primary steel-making capacity.

A global glut of steel and falling prices have put the local steel industry under massive pressure, with plant closures and people losing their jobs.

Briefing media ahead of his budget vote debate in the National Assembly this afternoon, Davies said saving the local steel industry was a priority.

"If we didn't, we would be dependent on imports for all of the downstream industries. We would be at the vagaries of international markets, we'd be at the vagaries of physical availability of steel products at different stages of different cycles in the future."

Davies said hard decisions were necessary to ensure tariff decisions aimed at protecting local steel-makers from low-priced imports didn't harm manufacturers that used steel.

"We're an iron-ore producing country, on top of that. So, do we just want to export our iron ore somewhere else, and import steel from somewhere else - I think not."