(Adds detail, tariff on cold-rolled steel may be ditched)
By Tom Miles
GENEVA, April 27 South Africa is proposing to
put emergency "safeguard" tariffs on imports of certain flat
hot-rolled steel products from July, it said in a filing
published by the World Trade Organization on Thursday.
The tariff would be in place for three years, and fall from
12 percent in the first year to 10 percent in the second year
and 8 percent in the third, it said.
South Africa said the proposal was based on a final
determination by its International Trade Administration
Commission (ITAC) that domestic production had suffered serious
damage from an unforeseen surge in imports.
The analysis of damage to the domestic industry was based on
information from AcelorMittal South Africa Limited,
which constituted more than 70 percent of total domestic
production of the affected products, it said.
ITAC began investigating the case for safeguard tariffs in
South Africa offered to consult with other WTO members on
the proposed tariff. Many developing countries are exempt from
the tariff, but imports from major producers such as China and
India would be covered by it.
In a separate case, South Africa had also been considering
putting a 10 percent safeguard tariff on cold-rolled steel.
Last November, South Africa said ITAC had made a preliminary
determination that safeguard tariffs would be justified.
But earlier this week South Africa told a WTO committee
meeting that ITAC had recommended ending the investigation into
cold-rolled steel, according to a trade official who attended
South Africa's representative told the WTO meeting that
ITAC's decision was not final and the government still needed to
consider comments from all parties, the trade official said.
Emergency tariffs are used against an unforeseen surge of
imports that threatens domestic producers. They are allowed
under WTO rules but have to be notified to the WTO and justified
by data, and can be challenged by other WTO members.
(Reporting by Tom Miles, editing by David Evans and Jane