CAPE TOWN, Mar. 10 -- South Africa would consider reinstating import duties for aluminium on economic grounds, but industry would need to apply formally for the measure, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Tuesday. Davies met in September with the Aluminium Federation of Southern Africa and Hulamin Ltd (HLMJ.J: Quote), Africa's biggest maker of semi-fabricated aluminium. The meeting discussed the adverse effects of removing import duties on downstream products, such as aluminium rolled products.
The decision to remove import duties was taken by the government-aligned International Trade and Administration Commission (ITAC), the minister said. "Taking into account the depressed economic conditions, as well as the phased closure of the cast house at Bayside smelter, it was agreed that there may well be economic grounds to reconsider the decision and therefore reinstate the import duty," Davies said in a written response to questions in parliament.
Bayside aluminium plant, owned by BHP Billiton (BHP.AX: Quote)BLT.T, has been operating well below its production capacity due to power shortages in Africa's largest economy. The global financial crisis also impacted production as demand decreased.
Davies said the aluminium industry was advised to meet with ITAC and make a formal application to reinstate import duties.
"Subsequently, ITAC has met with the industry and agreed to consider an application. However, to date, ITAC has not received a formal application from the aluminium industry as agreed," Davies said.