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The International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) is the Government’s arm that deals with the implementation of duties.
Macsteel, one of South Africa’s most prominent role players in the Steel Industry, has lodged an application in the Gauteng High Court to set aside ITAC’S decision to extend the safeguard-duties to protect AMSA for another year.
In this application, Macsteel argues that the extension was unlawful and that these duties should have lapsed on 10 August 2020, after it was originally implemented three years ago. Safeguard duties, in this case, can, in terms of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, only be applicable for the period of one year that was granted initially and any extension thereof has to be preceded by an investigation by ITAC.
AMSA’s application for the extension of the safeguard duties was only submitted to ITAC 34 days before the lapsing of the safeguard-duties. No investigation by ITAC was completed. AMSA also deliberately omitted the numerous interested parties, by naming only two importers and two exporters in spite of previous reports that named a multitude of countries and organisations who will be affected by such an extension.
In this application, Macsteel also makes mention of the fact that ITAC further included twelve new tariff-codes on which the safeguard-duties will apply (if promulgated) despite the fact that AMSA did not apply for these codes to be included. For ITAC to implement duties where there is no application, is obviously highly irregular.
ITAC’s recommendation to the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, and the latter’s recommendation to the Minister of Finance was rushed through in three days. No explanation was given for this incredulous timeframe
You might recall that NEASA also took legal action against ITAC to stop the implementation of proposed tariffs on nine new tariff-codes of coated products. NEASA directed communiques to both Ministers Patel and Mboweni, reminding them that they have an obligation to “apply their minds” before signing off on these duties. The proposed new tariff-codes have not, as yet, been implemented and it is unlikely that anyone applying his mind under the current circumstances will introduce more duties.
AMSA, in whose favour the safeguard duties were granted, has only partially started up after lockdown and cannot supply the market. Any further duties to prevent importation of the shortfall would be completely irrational.