South Africa: Minister Ebrahim Patel’s Plan for Steel Industry Falls Into the Trumpist Trap

How is it possible that we in South Africa, with a left-wing government, have ended up with an industrial policy almost indistinguishable from that of Donald Trump’s, the most right-wing president in recent American history? Turns out: quite easily.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

I read the South African Steel and Metal Fabrication Master Plan 1.0 this week after Ludovico Sanges, the MD of steel fabrication company Duferco, wrote about the plan in Business Maverick. His overall comment was a kind of partial welcome of the plan, writing “close but no cigar”.

I think he was being a little kind. The plan focuses very heavily on two things – localisation and tariffs. The steel industry in SA has some pockets of success, but it is under pressure from China after the US and the European Union imposed restrictions on Chinese steel, which encouraged the Chinese to offload more steel in other countries, including South Africa.

The overall philosophy of the plan reminds me of the Trump administration’s “buy local” programme. The high-water mark on Trump’s approach was his encouragement of a boycott of Harley-Davidson motorbikes. Ironically, Harley-Davidson’s decision to increase its production outside the US was…


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Author : Daily Maverick

Publish date : 2021-10-04 10:22:01

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