Tyre industry body takes bold stance against illicit trade and commits to industry evolution
From left: Renai Moothilal, Executive Director of the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM); Matthew Livigni, Continental Tyre South Africa MD; Ndu Chala, Managing Executive of the South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC); Jacques Rikhotso, Bridgestone South Africa MD; and Lubin Ozoux, SATMC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa.

The South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC) plans to build on the gains achieved over the past year and reinforce its commitment to the local tyre manufacturing industry in 2024. Its multifaceted approach for 2024 encompasses key initiatives to combat illicit trade, foster local manufacturing, prepare for the future of the industry, address skills development, and enhance environmental sustainability in the local tyre sector.

Combating Tyre Dumping and Illicit Trade

In 2023, the SATMC successfully advocated for the imposition of anti-dumping duties on unfairly traded imports of passenger, truck and bus tyres from China. This year will see a focus on monitoring the impact of this intervention.

SATMC Managing Executive, Ndu Chala, said a key initiative is the Illicit Trade Tyre Forum, established in partnership with the Tyres, Equipment, Parts Association (TEPA), the Tyre Importers Association of South Africa (TIASA), and the South African Freight Forwarders Association (SAAFF). The forum convenes monthly and has intensified efforts to combat misdeclaration of tyre consignments and the rerouting of imports through neighbouring countries to evade tyre duties, environmental levies, and permits. The tyre forum is taking a hard stance against smuggling, under-invoicing, and the use of illegitimate freight forwarders bringing illicitly traded tyres into the country.

“We want to make it clear that only trade with ethical companies can protect the future of this sector,” declared Chala. “We are proposing an industry pledge, starting with our four local tyre manufacturers – Bridgestone Southern Africa, Continental Tyre South Africa, Goodyear South Africa and Sumitomo Rubber South Africa – and extending to dealers, to ensure ethical practices from sourcing to distribution. Illicit trade of tyres has severe repercussions on jobs, plant capacity planning, and the integrity of our industry, as well as consumer safety."

Collaboration and Engagement

The SATMC will continue its active engagement with government and industry stakeholders to combat unethical practices and maintain the integrity of the industry.

Quarterly meetings with the SARS Tyre Forum facilitate reporting of suspected illicit activity for investigation by SARS. Recognising the significance of porous ports and harbours as entry points for illicitly traded tyres, the SATMC also intends exploring a partnership with Transnet to address these vulnerabilities.

Homegrown Focus

The SATMC’s Homegrown #DrivingLocal initiative launched in 2023 underscores the importance of supporting locally manufactured tyres. This campaign aims to create awareness among consumers about the benefits of choosing South African-made tyres, emphasising quality, job creation, and economic contribution.

Skills Development for the Future

Within the evolving automotive landscape, the SATMC is prioritising skills development, particularly for New Energy Vehicles (NEVs). This includes addressing the changing requirements of original equipment manufacturers related to tyres, and ensuring that the local workforce remains at the forefront of industry advancements.

Second-hand Tyre Regulation

Pending the finalisation of the Waste Tyre Management Plan, the SATMC is actively collaborating with the Waste Management Bureau and SAPS Law Enforcement. The SANS 1633 Standard is expected to be issued by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) in Q2 (March to June) to address tyre mutilation and dealer responsibility.

A signed Waste Tyre Management Plan is anticipated by the end of March 2024. The SATMC emphasises the importance of responsible dealer practices, and non-compliance may result in fines issued by the Bureau.

“As the SATMC we have been advocating strongly around having a clear roadmap in place to drive improvements and sustainability in both collection and processing of tyre waste. This initiative involves collaborative efforts with tyre dealers to promote proper storage practices for waste tyres. Simultaneously, the SATMC is actively exploring commercial opportunities for waste tyres, aiming to foster enterprise development and job creation within a circular economy,” said Chala.

Highlighting a longstanding concern within the industry, Chala emphasised the need for a systematic process to address the processing of end-of-life tyres. The SATMC is actively engaged in lobbying efforts concerning second-hand or part-worn tyres, an area currently lacking regulation in the country. This regulatory gap poses a significant safety risk for road commuters, prompting the SATMC's ongoing efforts to address this critical issue.

“Through each of these strategic priorities set out for 2024, we aim to deliver on our commitment to build a sustainable and ethical tyre industry in South Africa. We want to protect local jobs, ensure consumer safety, and contribute to a thriving automotive sector,” concluded Chala.