Stainless Steel Industry in SA – What’s the Buzz?

The continuing growth of China as a world producer and exporter of stainless steel products at a much cheaper price has had a massive impact on the overall health of the South African stainless steel industry. The Chinese government gives their country’s steel mills free land and interest-free loans which are written off after five years. In addition, the mills are not charged rates or taxes and electricity cost are subsidised up to 80%.

While this approach to the manufacture of stainless steel does make it difficult for South Africa to compete on price, the South African stainless steel industry does take the lead when it comes to quality.

South African stainless steel products are of a higher grade overall and can be safely and confidently used for every application including the demands of construction, unlike the Chinese grade which is more suited to the catering industry.

Another challenge facing the South African stainless steel industry is that many imported stainless steel products do have tariffs, but these tariffs are being manipulated and bypassed when the products are imported into South Africa as earmarked for projects. This is possible because when a product is required for a project, the tariff on the product is waived.

There is a general consensus that a level playing field is needed in the manufacturing industry. While Chinese manufacturers receive subsidies from their government, similar subsidies are not yet available to South African manufacturers, which makes it significantly more challenging for South African manufacturers and suppliers to compete.

To this end, the Southern Africa Stainless Steel Development Association (Sassda) is currently in discussions with the South African government about increasing the applied rates to the bound tariffs on stainless steel products that are manufactured locally.

“Industry can debate whether imports have their merits, but Sassda has a responsibility to protect the interests of the local stainless steel industry,” says Sassda executive director Bill Scurr.

The good news is that the South African stainless steel industry is vibrant and growing, with stainless steel in high demand across a wide variety of industries from construction to medical and catering to industrial equipment.

A thriving stainless steel industry helps to stimulate the South African economy and also promotes innovation, technology and infrastructure across a broad spectrum of applications.

The South African stainless steel industry is rising to the challenge of helping make nuclear power safer and a new class of ferritic-martensitic stainless steels shows encouraging promise against extreme nuclear temperatures, corrosion and other testing factors. With the demand for clean nuclear energy, stainless steel manufacturers will continue to create new alloys to meet the ever increasing demand for stronger, more resistant and higher-performing products.

Steelmor is proud to be a key player in the South African stainless steel market for over 40 years, being one of the leading stockists and manufacturers of stainless steel products in the country while also boasting the most comprehensive stainless steel stockholding and manufacturing facilities in Southern Africa.

Contact one of our expert consultants today to discuss your requirements. Steelmor will be happy to recommend and supply you with the stainless steel products best suited to your needs.