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In a communique to the Steel Industry on 23 November 2020, AMSA “sincerely” apologised to its customers for its inability to supply the market.
What AMSA does not tell its customers, is that they also filed a notice of opposition in the Pretoria High Court in response to the application by Macsteel to have the unlawful extension of the safeguard duties set aside.
AMSA’s disregard for the desperate situation the Steel Industry finds itself in, as a result of a situation created by AMSA, reminds me of a thief who recently broke into a jewellery store in Windhoek, Namibia.
Before leaving the store with the stolen goods, he left two notes. One note read: “Dear people of God, don’t worry by losing a lot of jewels worth millions. Remember Sterns shop have got insurance. Thank me as a thief I don’t use a gun. I spare human life because people are important than money or goods (sic).”
A second note read: “Have a nice day. Today you’re sad. I know tomorrow your happiness will recover. God bless.” (The Namibian)
I sense that this thief has more sympathy for the owners of the jewellery store than AMSA has for the downstream.
According to the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the safeguard duties on hot-rolled coil granted to AMSA, were due to expire on 10 August 2020. However, surprisingly, and against WTO rules, on 7 August 2020 (three days before the expiry date), without following due process, these duties were extended by the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) for another year.
Consequently, Macsteel launched an application to set aside ITAC’s decision in the Pretoria High Court, citing ITAC, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, the Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service, SAISI and AMSA, among others. Thus far AMSA is the only party that has filed a notice of opposition to Macsteel’s application, resulting in a potential drawn-out legal process whilst the duties remain in place.
This all boils down to a situation where AMSA, on the one hand, admits repeatedly that they cannot supply the market. Simultaneously, they persist with the defense of an unlawful act which prevents the downstream from importing raw material, unless 18 per cent duties are paid.
If, following a mistake, a sincere apology is presented, there is a moral obligation to forgive. If, however, the offender continues with his wrongful behaviour, obviously, the apology is not sincere. An apology in such circumstances is a confirmation of arrogance to the extreme; the complete absence of any understanding of the severity of the situation and a complete lack of sympathy for the dilemma of the victim, in this case, the steel downstream.
AMSA’s conduct is patronising and the steel downstream takes severe exception.
In the latest instance, AMSA ‘apologises’ for a further two-week delay, this time as a result of, according to AMSA, a five-day illegal strike. The effect hereof is that orders which were destined for delivery in November and which have already been moved to February 2021, now get postponed by another two weeks.
Does AMSA have any idea of the effect this is having on the steel downstream? They probably do, especially since NEASA is reporting about it daily, but they just do not care; it's all about their own survival, even if their own selfish interests cause the demise of many SMMEs and many job losses.
The duties that protect AMSA have crippled the steel downstream. One can expect that AMSA will continue with their selfish agenda, but Government can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to the disaster currently playing itself out.
We, once again, call on Government to suspend all duties.