The International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (“ITAC”) is currently considering rebates on imported woven fabrics as well as the manufacture of electricity meters. On 30 January, the ITAC published a notice in the Government Gazette in respect of a proposed full rebate on imported woven products in South Africa which would enable importers to purchase fabrics without paying duties under certain conditions as well as a rebate provision in respect of electricity meters.
“The primary aim of rebates is to offer a customs duty waiver which would mean the availability of world competitive prices of products that attract duties that are either insufficiently or not at all produced domestically,” explained Virusha Subban, Partner at Bowman Gilfillan. “This waiver would clearly be advantageous to local industry that very often can’t compete with competition from low-priced imports, particularly from China.”
Coricraft Group (Pty) Ltd (“Coricraft”) submitted an application seeking full duty rebates on woven fabrics containing 85% or more by mass of synthetic filaments, of yarns of different colours, and woven fabrics of polyester staple fibres, excluding those mixed mainly or solely with wool of fine animal hair. Coricraft contended that fabric supply in South Africa is relatively limited in the offerings in respect of trends and product newness compared to offerings available from the rest of the world; the local industry lacks dyeing capacity and capability; and local suppliers fail to meet the “handle and performance standards” due to lack of finishing techniques. They also noted that a key restriction on the ability of local suppliers to meet their fabric requirements is the sourcing of filament/fibre which has to be imported, meaning a significantly longer lead time of supply for local suppliers than that of the overseas supplier’s timeline.
Itron Metering Solution (Pty) Ltd (“Itron”) applied to the ITAC for a rebate provision on import duties on components for the manufacture of electricity meters, as, among other things, the local industry is facing fierce competition from low-priced imports of electricity meters, particularly from China. “Electricity meters are currently duty free, whilst some components used when manufacturing them attracts import duties”, concluded Subban. “This means an additional disadvantage to the local industry which could result in job losses due to the local industry losing market share”.
Comments or any objections to the applications are to be made within four (4) weeks of the date of notice.