SA Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has cried fowl over US protectionism, and warned that any Trump tightening of US restrictions against SA vehicle exports could result in action against SA imports of US poultry.

Davies was attending the Brics Business Forum in Sandton, and warned that the growing global trade war had brought “enormous turbulence and a moment of crisis for the multilateral trading system.

This was supported by Iqbal Survé.  President of Brics Business Council, who spoke of “deep uncertainties about future of the world economy” with the US raising tariff barriers, Brexit, and polarisation in US, Middle East and certain European countries.  

Davies warned: ”we are in the midst of trade wars.  

“We are beyond the phony war into a real trade war - to the advantage of the largest economy in the world.

“We are being hit by collateral damage - on our exports (to the US) of steel and aluminium.  We were not given any exemptions.

“There are now hearings on auto - which affects us.”

Davies said that exports of vehicles account for “a pretty significant chunk of our AGOA exports to the US”.
AGOA is a US mechanism to offer favourable trade treatment for exports into the US from Africa.

Davies indicated that he has warned that further US action against SA auto exports could result in a tit-for-tat clampdown on imports by SA of American poultry.

“I met the US Secretary of Commerce.  We indicated that the poultry import concessions we made as SA in 2015 are linked to our participation in AGOA,” said Davies.

He welcomed the Chinese announcement of $14.7bn in new investment in SA, which will form part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s $100bn target over 5 years.

“We are looking for a pragmatic conversation among businesses to identify projects,” Davies said, pledging to ensure a hefty sum is invested in SA manufacturing.

“Clearly our aim and intention is a significant part of the investment will be in manufacturing. We have a number of ideas and projects we can give to investors,” said Davies.

He said that SA wants to cooperate more closely with the other BRICS nations, but also want to ensure that SA and its African neighbours develop more sophisticated industries, moving away from dependency on basic commodities.

He said that there must be an effort to ensure the benefits of the 4th Industrial Revolution also extend to Africa. 

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