The US Commerce Department has granted imports of 161 aluminium and 36 steel products from South Africa exemptions to the Section 232 tariffs, South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DIT) said on October 24.
Imports of 161 aluminium and 36 steel products from South Africa have been granted exemptions to the United States' Section 232 tariffs by the Commerce Department, South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Wednesday October 24.
For aluminium, the products exempted include aluminium foil and plate, and sheet and strip. For steel, they include the hot-rolled bar, hot-rolled sheet, cold-rolled sheet, cut plate and plate in coil, the DTI noted.
But South Africa is a fairly insignificant supplier of steel and aluminium products to the US.
Imports of steel mill products from South Africa totaled 330,742 tonnes in 2017, representing less than 1% of all steel mill product shipments to the US, US Census Bureau data show.
For aluminium, the US imported 110,487 tonnes of unwrought aluminium from South Africa in 2017, or 2.3% of overall imports and 4.6% of inflows when excluding Canada, International Trade Commission data show.
South Africa was one of a handful of countries thought to be vulnerable to higher Section 232 duties, following comments by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in February.
Commerce, in a final determination in January, levied anti-dumping duties of 142.26% against imports of South African steel wire rod, identifying ArcelorMittal South Africa as a mandatory respondent. That decision was met with confusion, given that the US imports an insignificant volume of this steel product from the country.
The Section 232 tariffs - 25% for steel imports and 10% for aluminium imports - that were announced by US President Donald Trump in March injected volatility into some domestic steel and aluminium markets.
Fastmarkets AMM’s assessment for the P1020 duty-paid aluminium premium was at 19-19.75 cents per lb on October 23, down from the more than three-year high of 22-23 cents per lb on April 10 but more than double the 9.4-9.5 cents recorded at the start of this year.
Similarly, Fastmarkets AMM's hot-rolled coil index was at $41.69 per hundredweight on October 18, down by 9.1% from the nearly 10-year high of $45.84 per cwt on July 5 but still up 27.8% from $32.63 per cwt in early January.
South African trade minister Rob Davies had put in a formal request for a country-wide exemption from the US Section 232 tariffs in March, and met with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Ross in Washington in July.
South Africa continues to lobby for a country-wide exemption from the tariffs.
“While South Africa welcomes this important relief to our exports, [the] government remains engaged with the US government and continues to request a country exemption,” the DTI said.