Ways to deal with cheap-import threat

A two-pronged research programme is currently being undertaken, both locally and internationally, by the Southern Africa Stainless-Steel Development Association (SASSDA) to identify which benefits are offered by overseas governments to their manufacturers and to audit local manufacturing procedures and business practices. Parts of the industry are experiencing increasing competition from cheap imports, particularly from China and other Asian countries, driven to a large extent by the strong rand. This does not mean that SASSDA wants to remove competition from the South African industry, but create a “level playing field, with fair market conditionsâ€?. An example: many of these products are inferior to locally made products, especially with plated carbon steel products, such as bathroom accessories, which have a much lower life expectancy than locally manufactured, but more expensive stainless-steel products. While these products are visually similar, it is often very difficult for the consumer to distinguish between the stainless-steel and the plated articles. The consumer is thus often not in a position to make an informed product choice, to the detriment of both the consumer and the local industry. SASSDA intends to respond to these developments by researching and gaining a better understanding of the competitive position of local manufacturers and by embarking on a campaign to educate consumers and promote locally manufactured stainless-steel consumer products. The stainless-steel mark will play an important role in identifying and branding locally made stainless-steel products, thereby promoting an informed consumer choice.

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